TOKYO, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Japan's national legislature Diet on Friday enacted a labor reform bill purportedly aimed at addressing the country's pervasive overtime culture by implementing work-style regulations amid calls from the opposition camp the reforms could be counter-intuitive.
The ruling bloc, led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), failed to get the bill passed through the lower house at its first attempt, amid strong resistance from the opposition camp, who argued that the new bill could in fact encourage longer working hours.
But the bill, which sees eight labor-related laws revised, cleared the upper house plenary session Friday by a majority vote of the ruling bloc, with some opposition lawmakers also supporting the bill.
"The legislation has been enacted to allow people to have different work styles, including while raising children or caring for the elderly," Abe was quoted as telling a press briefing at his office following the bill's enactment.
The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and other parties have maintained, however, that the bill could lead to more instances of "karoshi," or death by overwork, but a modified version of the bill cleared the lower house last month backed by the ruling bloc.
The bill now legally limits overtime hours, stipulates equal treatment for regular and non-regular workers, but controversially exempts highly skilled professional workers, with high incomes, from working-hour regulations.
The exemption for this category of workers, with business lobbies encouraging firms to give such professionals 104 days off from work a year, is supposed to enable a more flexible style of work.