But that was the character of Japan from the 1950s to '70s - the high-growth era in which this East Asian nation rose from the ashes of a bitter wartime defeat to eventually reach the heady status of the number-two economic power in the world.
Even before that earlier period ended, shunto, the Japanese term for "spring offensive", had become more of a ritual than anything else, and union militancy faded perceptibly as the years went by. Today it is practically unknown.
"In the 1970s, there were almost 6,000 strikes on an average year, but last year there were only 68," Motoaki Nakaoka, general secretary of the National Trade Union Council (Zenrokyo), points out. "This is an era in which even the labour leaders don't know what it is like to prevail in a strike."
It is not only Japanese labour activism whose effectiveness is in question, but the very existence of Japanese labour unions themselves. According to a comprehensive survey carried out by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the proportion of Japanese workers who are members of labour unions has fallen to 17.9 percent. At its peak in the early postwar years, that figure was above 55 percent.
Many factors contributed to this steady decline in the power of labour organisation in Japan, and it's a story familiar to many developed nations.
For one thing, Japan's conservative governments became less tolerant of labour activism and large-scale strikes as the years went by. Socialist and communist parties with which labour unions were affiliated either weakened substantially at the polls, or else disappeared altogether.
|Dec 06||4 youths arrested for throwing bikes onto expressway|
|Police in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, said Thursday they have arrested four youths aged 16 to 19 for throwing two bicycles onto an expressway from an overpass in October. (Japan Today )|
|Dec 06||Kobe light festival starts|
|An annual light festival commemorating a major earthquake 18 years ago has opened in the western Japanese port city of Kobe. (NHK )|
|Dec 05||Woman arrested for calling police over 15,000 times in six months|
|A woman has been arrested in Sakai, Osaka, for harassment of the metropolitan police department after having called 110, the emergency number, 15,000 times in the last half year alone. (Japan Today )|
|Dec 05||Yoko Ono recounts own hunger during war in Japan|
|Yoko Ono says her own bitter experience in Japan during World War II inspired her to support WhyHunger's "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign to fight childhood hunger around the world. (abcnews.go.com )|
|Dec 05||Emperor and Empress visit Chennai|
|Japan's Emperor and Empress have visited the southern Indian city of Chennai. (NHK )|
|Dec 04||Ex-Sumo wrestler Kotomitsuki arrested for hiring illegal immigrants|
|Japanese police arrested former sumo ozeki Kotomitsuki on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the immigration law by employing foreigners illegally at a barbecue restaurant he runs in Nagoya, central Japan. (Jiji Press )|
|Dec 04||Tokyo cops arrest 24 hookers in November sweep through Ikebukuro, Kabukicho|
|Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Tuesday announced that a crackdown on prostitution in the city’s nightlife areas last month resulted in the arrest of 24 women. (Tokyo Reporter )|
|Dec 04||Doctor leaves gauze in patient's body in Sagamihara hospital|
|Officials at Sagamihara Chuo Hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture said Tuesday that a doctor left a piece of gauze in a patient's body after an operation last May. (Japan Today )|
|Dec 04||Housing recovery slow after 1,000 days|
|A thousand days have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. However, only 1.2 percent of the planned land development for collective relocation of disaster-affected communities and construction of publicly operated housing have materialized, according to a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun. (Yomiuri )|
|Dec 04||A Japanese sex doll company is now making life-size Lady Gaga replicas|
|There is a fairly well-documented sex doll subculture in Japan, and one of its leading manufacturers is Orient Industry. Gaga and Universal Music Group's Japanese branch recruited the company to make replicas of the pop star. (businessinsider.com.au )|