Slate says: “While Japan’s economy may be contracting, its unemployment rate is still just 3.6 percent, barely up from the 16-year low it hit during the summer. Noting the country’s low joblessness, the Money Illusion’s Scott Sumner quips: “I say if Japan is in recession it’s time to redefine the term.” That’s one way of looking at the issue. But Japan has always had extremely low-unemployment—possibly in part, as Noah Smith has argued, because its wages tend to fall when the economy gets rough, which helps keep people at work. So whereas American recessions tend to lead to high joblessness, the thing to worry about in Japan may be further declining pay, which would of course make it even harder for Abe to pull the country out of its long-term deflationary slump.”
I suspect another reason for Japan’s chronically low unemployment rate is that the Japanese like to work.