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In Japan many workers for large corporations have a guarantee of lifetimes employment. They will not be laid off during recession or when the tasks they perform are taken over by robots. To some observers, this is capitalism at its best, because workers are treated as people not things. Others see it as necessarily inefficient and believe it cannot continue if Japan is to remain competitive with foreign corporations more concerned about profits and less concerned about people.
Defenders of the system argue that those who call it inefficient do not understand how it really works. In the first place not every Japanese worker has a guarantee of a lifetime job. The lifetime employment system includes only “regular employees”. Many employees do not fall into this category, including all women. All business have many part-time and temporary employees. These workers are hired and laid off during the course of business cycle just as employees in the United States are. These “irregular workers” make up about 10 percent of the nonagricultural work force. Additionally, Japanese firms maintain some flexibility through the extensive use of subcontractors. This practice is much more common in Japan than in the United States.
The use of both subcontractors and temporary workers has increased markedly in Japan since the 1974-1975 recession. All this leads some to argue that the Japanese system really is not all that different from the American system. During recessions Japanese corporations lay off temporary workers and give less business to subcontractors. In the United States, corporations lay off those workers with the least seniority. The difference then is probably less than the term “lifetime employment” suggests, but there still a difference . And this difference can not be understood without looking at the values of Japanese society. The relationship between employer and employee cannot be explained in purely contractual terms. Firms hold on to the employees and that employees stay with one firm. There are also practical reasons for not jumping from job to job. Most retirement benefits come from the employer. Changing jobs means losing these benefits. Also, teamwork is an essential part of Japanese production. Moving to a new firm means adapting to a different team and at least temporarily, lower productivity and lower pay.
1. Which of the following is the best title for this passage?
(a) Employment in Japan
(b) Employment both in Japan and in America
(c) Lifetime Employment in Japan
(d) Lifetime Employment in United States
2. According to the passage, a woman in Japan .
(a) cannot get a lifetime job
(b) cannot get a part time job
(c) will be employed for life
(d) is among the regular workers
3. The use of subcontractors .
(a) is much more common in Japan than in the United States
(b) began in 1974
(c) make Japanese firms less flexible
(d) is out of date now in Japan
4. Those, who are first laid off by American corporations, are
(a) temporary workers
(b) regular workers
(c) senior workers
(d) junior workers
5. The following statements are reasons for Japanese workers to stay with one firm except
(a) they don’t want to lose their retirement benefits
(b) they get used to the teamwork
(c) any change of jobs will make them less paid
(d) they are not adaptable people
6. Please try to translate the sentences "Others see it as necessarily inefficient and believe it cannot continue if Japan is to remain competitive with foreign corporations more concerned about profits and less concerned about people." into Chinese:
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