During an extended period of economic recession for most of the 1990s, broad and striking changes have been made to the Japanese employment system. How fundamental or reversible they are is harder to evaluate. If the economic recovery prevails, a considerable stabilization of Japanese human resources practices can be expected, although at a higher level of market‐oriented flexibility than previously existed. Despite the connection between the seniority‐based salary system and the lifetime employment regime, more future changes can be expected in the former than the latter. In the case of the Japanese system of industrial relations, a safe conclusion is that its main characteristics will probably be maintained in coming years.
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