The SAGE Handbook of Modern Japanese Studies includes outstanding contributions from a diverse group of leading academics from across the globe. This volume is designed to serve as a major interdisciplinary reference work and a seminal text, both rigorous and accessible, to assist students and scholars in understanding one of the major nations of the world.
Chapter 30: Labor Relations1
Cooperative enterprise unionism is often regarded as the dominant feature of labor relations in Japan. Enterprise unions often give priority to the market competitiveness of the enterprise over immediate demands of union members, such as higher wages and shorter working hours. Leaders of these unions have justified such policies by emphasizing that only better corporate performance will bring about higher wages and improved working conditions. Cooperative industrial relations were seen as one of the major reasons for the rapid economic growth in the 1960s and for the global competitiveness of Japan's export industries in the 1970s and 1980s. Even after the Japanese economy went into long-term recession in the early 1990s, and employers of even big enterprises started to downsize their workforce, enterprise-based cooperative industrial relations seemed to remain stable.
The Japanese labor ...