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Voodoo Abenomics

Japan's Failed Comeback Plan

Down and out: Tokyo, December 2008. Kim Kyung Hoon / Courtesy Reuters

Imagine the predicament currently facing a growing number of Japanese men in their early 30s. Despite having spent years cramming in high school and attending good colleges, many can’t find a full-time job at a good company. Since Japan’s rigid labor laws make it nearly impossible to lay off permanent employees in downtimes, companies now tend to fill open slots with part-time or temporary workers, and they typically pay them a third less. Today, 17 percent of Japanese men aged 25 to 34 hold such second-class jobs, up from four percent in 1988. Low-paid temps and part-timers now make up 38 percent of Japanese employees of all ages and both sexes -- a stunning figure for a society that once prided itself on equality.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to revive Japan when he took office in December 2012, and he often boasts of all the jobs he has added since. But all the

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