The Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK) received a joint letter in May. The letter was co-signed by 123 Japanese 7-11 convenience store managers. They hoped that the society would face up to the shortage of serious staff in the convenience store and barely make a 24-hour overnight business meeting to “get out of life.”
Japan’s aging population and declining fertility rate have caused chronic labor shortages, and convenience stores have been unable to operate 24 hours a day. Today’s topic is to look at a social problem that has long plagued Japan from 7-11 in Japan.
On June 26, the 7-11 Group of Japan stated that it will shorten the operation time experiment on the branch. After the experiment is over, it will be decided by the franchise store to continue to maintain non-24 hours of operation. This means that in the future, 7-11 stores can choose to operate 24 hours a day or for a limited time in response to actual needs.
7-11 is Japan’s largest convenience store group. It is known for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is of great significance to cancel its 24-hour business.
Starting from the February East Osaka event
The incident will start from the “East Osaka 7-11 liquidated damage incident” that occurred in early 2019. In February, a 7-11 change in business hours in Higashi-Osaka City was shortened from 24-hour operation to 6 am to 1 am, and the 7-11 headquarters was fined 17 million yen (about 1.22 million yen) for violating the franchise contract. ).
However, after interviews with the media, I found that the store manager of Dongsaka had a lot of difficulties: the 57-year-old store manager used to run a convenience store with his wife, but because of her illness, and four long-time part-time employees resigned together, the manpower was seriously insufficient. The manager has to work from 5 o’clock in the morning until 2 o’clock in the middle of the night, and even work hard. He had to shorten his business hours when he was difficult to support.
The incident caused widespread discussion in the Japanese society. The 7-11 headquarters was forced by strong public opinion pressure to withdraw the requirement for additional liquidated damages for the 7-11 branch of Higashi Osaka, and promised to allow some stores to shorten their business hours and experiment with the benefits of non-24-hour business.
Adhere to 24-hour operation is no longer realistic
In addition to the case of Dongsang, many convenience stores in Japan are facing the same dilemma. In the joint letter sent to the NHK by the franchisees in May 7-11, most of them expressed the burden of overnight operations and pressed the owner. One of the shopkeepers who also operated in Osaka said that they wanted to go to work all night, seven days a week. Although they were warned by the Labor Bureau (Labor Standards Supervision Department), they could only continue to violate the rules because they could not recruit people. Some shopkeepers said that “the chronic shortage of manpower makes it impossible to support it, and it will continue to kill people.”
Professor Nishimura Nakamura of the Japan University of Economics said that the convenience store industry has changed its business system of operating 24 hours a day, opening a large number of stores, and occupying regional dominance in the past 40 years: “With a declining population and a shortage of labor, it is increasingly difficult to recruit people. The number of customers who need overnight convenience stores is gradually decreasing, and with the changes in the social environment, such a management system is about to explode.”
The convenience store is open all day, in addition to helping people who come out at night or because they need to go home late at night, it also helps the community to “security”. In the middle of the night, there is still a convenience store business that is a proof of the community’s “someone’s activities”, allowing residents to seek help or to seek refuge in an emergency.
However, with the reduction of overnight work and the increase in security equipment, the need for convenience stores to open stores all day has been greatly reduced. Some store managers who support the suspension of overnight business said that the average number of people who come to the city in the middle of the night is less than 10, and not opening the store does not affect the marketing figures.
Serious aging industry
The 7-11 convenience store event is only the tip of the iceberg, and there are still many industries that have sounded the alarm because of the reduced labor force. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as of 2016, the average age of wage earners in all industries in the country was 45.3 years old, of which the average age of construction workers was 47.4 years old, more than 30% of employees were over 55 years old, and less than 10% of employees under 29 years old; The average age of the taxi industry is as high as 59 years old, and the number of employees is aging.
The problem brought about by this situation is that in addition to the decline in business efficiency and the decrease in revenue, traffic accidents occur. In April 2019, a bus in Kobe City crashed into a pedestrian crossing, causing two deaths and five injuries. The 64-year-old bus driver admitted that he might “step on the wrong foot” and ran into the pedestrian.
In response to the shortage of labor force, the Japanese government passed an amendment to the Immigration Control Act called the Foreign Talents Enlargement Act in December 2018 to ease the importation of foreign workers. The new bill no longer limits the need for “high-quality talents” and expands the general industry including the catering, construction and hotel industries to solve the problem of insufficient grassroots labor.
The new amendment is intended to replace the “Foreign Intern” program in the past. In the past, Japan introduced foreign workers in the name of providing vocational training. However, due to the low salary and poor working environment, NHK received another letter of help from Vietnamese interns in June, saying that they were threatened by Japanese factories and worked over 180 hours per month. Just before the show aired, one of the interns who asked for help was suspected of having cerebral hemorrhage due to overwork and has been unconscious.
The New Foreign Talents Enlargement Law requires that foreign workers who are recruited must have equal pay for equal work with Japanese, but even if they are Japanese, the working environment does not seem to be ideal. The government’s introduction of purely foreign workers to Japan may only increase the number of “slaves”. I am afraid that bombs will be buried for the society and will erupt in the future.