Muki Tenkan Rule: The commencement of “conversion to unrestricted rules” – Chance to change your unsecured part-time contract to a non-fixed period contract! –

Noricco Toyoda
Part-time university lecturer & Senior researcher at S&N Information Limited


Are you a part-timer who will have worked more than five years with an unrenewable contract for a company/school/organisation next year or already have done? You might be, likely are, eligible to change the contract to a non-fixed period with a simple statement note. The law claims even your verbal statement should be affective, but I would recommend, of course, email your application properly to your admin or HR. Employers have no right to refuse it. They have no right to stop employment preventing you from five-years’ period, though many organisations are still challenging the law by setting a cooling off period – stop employment before it reaches five years. Also please note that it does not have to be consecutively five years but several month non-employment or no-contract periods could be ignored.

The rules have been discussed in some articles in Japan Times and Reuters. Search “Five year rules in Japan” or “ Muki Tenkan Rule” to get familiar with the new labour law. Hifumi Okunuki wrote an article to Japan Times in Nov. 2016, saying ‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs, stating that “The amendment was supposed to give workers more job security.” ”From the start I had my doubts – ”, so we need to go against the tide, unionize and fight back. Now in 2018, I have seen many part-time workers switching their contracts to indefinite period ones. If you have a person nearby who takes care of your employment why not asking him/her about this rule? He/she might not know because full-time workers do not have to care about it much but it can be surely Googled and this is really a good change of labour law in Japan.

The application is so simple and employers cannot refuse it. If any offence, you should talk to the local labour bureau.


Example: Fukuroi-City, Shizuoka, Labor Bureau

Muki Tenkan Rule: Conversion to unrestricted rules refers to the system which allows employees with renewed fixed-term contracts exceeding a period of 5 years to apply for and change to a non-fixed employment contract. The period of 5 years is based on the provisions outlined in the labour contract laws and applies to fixed-term employment contracts signed before the date of 1 April 2013. The types of workers affected include contract, part-time and casual workers. The titles of temporary workers will stay the same. For more information contact the Labor Bureau.


Useful Information

Application of Muki Tenkan

English speaking Labor and Social Security Attorney Mr. Kawada:



‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI: Click
Are university teachers in Japan covered by the ‘five-year rule’? BY LOUIS CARLET: Click
The Renewal of Fixed-Term Contracts: The Law (Nick Wood, November 2015): Click
Japan Inc turns contract workers into permanent staff as labor market tightens BY Tetsushi Kajimoto: Click