I will have more to say about this once American tax “busy season” is over.
Last year, the Japanese Diet amended the 2008 Labor Contract Act to do three things:
1) put into statute a civil law legal doctrine of regular employment after repeated fixed-term renewals;
2) provide, beginning in the year 2018, for an automatic right to regular employment separate from number one above, and separate from regular employment that is already established either by agreement or when there is no valid fixed-term contract;
3) established by statute fair employment terms between fixed-term and regular employees.
Each of these is its own consideration. What appears to be happening in the expat community—as is often the case—is that one aspect is being focused on (number two), to the exclusion of other things that are already labor law in Japan.
[Update: You see, one obvious problem is that there are a number of foreigners who already have the “repeated renewals” path to sei sha’in, who are now being convinced to sign “new” contracts for employment that reference the 2018 pathway . . . ]