Table: What the Government Can Do to Promote a Flexible Workforce

INVESTMENT PROGRAMS

Establish portable 401(k)-style accounts that allow workers to take their pensions when they change jobs. The Diet will likely approve such plans this spring, but critics say the limits on contributions are too strict.

JOB TRAINING

Spend more on training programs. Lawmakers are expected to set aside only $76.5 million for job training this year. Critics say the money will focus more on placement than on teaching new skills.

SACKING WORKERS

Consider rules that would allow employers to dismiss workers who perform poorly. Today, companies must be on the verge of bankruptcy for courts to allow them to fire workers.

TAXING RETIREES

Make the tax rates on retirement payments equal. Japanese who retire after working more than 20 years at one company receive tax deductions 20 times more lucrative than those who retire with less than 20 years of service.

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