Golden Gate University Law Review


Becky Kukuk


This article examines the kaigaitenkinsha's effects on women employees in the U.S. workplace and recommends solutions to mitigate their potentially discriminatory impact. Part II, Section A, surveys the kinds of sex discrimination that women encountered at Japanese companies aside from those alleged at Mitsubishi. Section B reviews U.S. equal employment opportunity laws to provide a framework from which to understand U.S. women's employment rights and to compare the Japanese employment laws outlined in the next section. Section C seeks to explain why the kaigaitenkinsha discriminate against women by reviewing the history of women's employment in Japan and Japan's equal employment opportunity laws. Part III of this article proposes that U.S. laws may permit Japanese companies to exclude U.S. women from their management ranks because they authorize discrimination in favor of the kaigaitenkinsha. This potential outcome stems from the language of the U.S.-Japan commercial operating treaty and the decisions reached by the majority of courts interpreting the scope of the treaty. Part III, Section A identifies the relevant treaty provision, and Section B analyzes the majority's holdings. Section B also presents the minority view in U.S. courts that the treaty allows Japanese companies to give preference to the kaigaitenkinsha only upon proving that Japanese citizenship is an essential qualification for the position at issue. Part IV proposes two solutions to mitigate the potentially discriminatory effects of Japanese culture on U.S. women employees in the future, as described in Part II and Part III. First, as part of the process of securing the licensing to establish U.S. business operations, key executives at Japanese-owned companies should receive training that enables them to demonstrate a basic understanding of U.S. equal employment opportunity laws. This recommendation should help ensure that, at a minimum, Japanese employers possess sufficient knowledge of U.S. laws to deter them from treating U.S. women in a discriminatory manner.