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Labor reforms? Japan limits on part-timers please no one.

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"But this type of regulation may decrease Japanese companies' competitiveness. That's a Catch-22 for the Japanese economy."

Promises, promises

The measure fulfills a campaign pledge made by the DPJ during last summer's election campaign.

The bill approved by the cabinet Friday will ban "dispatch" work, or short-term contract work arranged through a third company, in the manufacturing sector. That rolls back liberalization measures in 2004 under the more business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government.

The new measures would also ban one-or two-day dispatch work contracts.

The bill now goes to the Diet, or parliament, where it is expected to pass within weeks.

Such measures are a response to widespread indignation over the mass firing of dispatch laborers when the recession hit in 2008.

Dispatch workers, along with part-time, subcontract, and other nonpermanent labor, now make up about one-third of Japan's 56 million-strong workforce.

The labor reforms are supported by Rengo, Japan's largest trade union confederation and a pillar of DPJ support. Most of its nearly 7 million members are permanent, full-time workers at big-name firms like Toyota and Panasonic.

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