Photo/Illutration The Tokyo District Court in the capital’s Kasumigaseki district (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Japanese cabin crews who had worked for a Dutch airline by applying a law in the Netherlands over the equivalent one in Japan to give them permanent employment status and ensure they receive back pay.

The 29 Japanese personnel had worked for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines under fixed-term contracts and filed a lawsuit in Japan seeking confirmation of their status based on Dutch law.

Presiding Judge Yuji Fuse ordered KLM to change its employment contract to a permanent one and pay the unpaid wages.

Dutch law stipulates that if a fixed-term contract period exceeds a total of three years, the employee will then be regarded as an indefinite-term employee.

Japanese law states that employees can only obtain that right after five years.

According to the March 27 ruling, the plaintiffs were dismissed within the five-year period.

The court ruled that the three-year period stipulated by Dutch law should be applied to the cabin crews in light of Japan’s general rule lawwhich says a contract is governed by law of the place that is most closely connected. 

The judges decreed that the employment terms and conditions were decided in the Netherlands.

The plaintiffs' lawyer praised the decision “as significant for the job stability of Japanese workers employed by foreign companies.”

“It is quite rare that a foreign regulation, which is more generous (in terms of worker protection) than anything in Japan, applied here,” the lawyer said.

(This article was written by Kyota Tanaka and Jumpei Miura.)