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.
|Apr 23||Obama on his way to Japan|
|US President Barack Obama has left the United States for his first trip to Japan in about 3-and-a-half years. Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a summit meeting on Thursday. (NHK )|
|Apr 23||National school exams held|
|The education ministry conducted national academic achievement tests on Tuesday for all final-year students at primary and middle schools across the country. About 2.24 million students at about 30,000 schools took Japanese and mathematics exams. (The Japan News )|
|Apr 23||Japan, U.S. to defer broad trade accord|
|Japan and the United States are now seen deferring a broad trade agreement until after a summit meeting set for Thursday due to differences over key issues, informed sources said Tuesday. (Jiji Press )|
|Apr 23||Japan's bird flu virus has same gene type as S. Korea's|
|The virus strain that caused bird flu at a poultry farm in southwestern Japan has been confirmed to be genetically identical to the one found in South Korea, the National Institute of Animal Health said Tuesday. (Jiji Press )|
|Apr 22||Lost codes spark airport scramble on eve of Obama's arrival|
|Airport authorities in Tokyo launched a frantic scramble to change security pass codes, an official said Tuesday, the day before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives, after an airline employee dropped a memo containing the details. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 23||100,000 apply to participate in first public tours of parts of Imperial Palace|
|The Imperial Household Agency announced this week that it has received over 100,000 applications from individuals seeking to participate in the first ever public opening of parts of the Imperial Palace. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 23||79-year-old woman stabbed to death in Shizuoka home|
|Police in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, said Tuesday that a 79-year-old woman was stabbed to death at her home. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 22||Ex-judge installed camera in women's toilet at Ministry of Justice|
|A former judge from the Ministry of Justice is alleged to have installed a camera inside a women's toilet inside a ministry building in Kasumigaseki, people with knowledge of the matter announced on Monday, reports Sports Nippon (Apr. 22). (Tokyo Reporter )|
|Apr 22||Hunters kill bear after it attacks man in Niigata|
|Hunters shot and killed a bear on Monday after it attacked a man in Murakami, Niigata Prefecture. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Daughter arrested for killing 83-year-old mother with kettle|
|Police in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, said Monday they have arrested a 55-year-old woman for fatally beating her 83-year-old mother with a kettle at their home. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Justin Bieber 'in a happy place,' hits Tokyo with mom Pattie Mallette|
|Justin Bieber flies to Tokyo, Japan, with mom Pattie Mallette, leaving his legal woes, Drake Bell drama and the debate on the deportation petition behind. (inquisitr.com )|
|Apr 21||Man stabs ex-girlfriend, her parents in their home in Aichi|
|Police in Fuso, Aichi Prefecture, said Sunday they have arrested an unemployed 38-year-old man for attempted murder after he broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend and stabbed her and her parents. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Man jumps to death after fatally stabbing father|
|Police in Tokyo said that a 46-year-old man apparently jumped to his death after fatally stabbing his father at their condominium in Tokyo's Koto Ward on Sunday morning. (Japan Today )|
|Apr 21||Matsushima gull feeding ban to protect pine trees|
|Feeding black-tailed gulls has been a popular activity on the sightseeing boats that cruise around the Matsushima islets, considered to be one of the three most beautiful spots in Japan, but local authorities banned the practice this month in a bid to protect the islets' famous pine trees from withering as a result of nitrogen in the droppings of the gulls, who have bred in large numbers in the area. (The Japan News )|
|Apr 20||Serial burglar suspected of over 100 thefts|
|Police in Tokyo have arrested a 41-year-old construction worker on suspicion of stealing over 10 million yen in cash and precious jewels. (Japan Today )|