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.
|Jun 19||UNESCO register adds archive of pre-modern Japan mission to Spain|
|A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday. (Global Post )|
|Jun 19||Over 1,000 people hospitalized in Japan for heatstroke|
|Almost 1,500 people were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last week, up sharply from 942 in the preceding week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Times )|
|Jun 19||Mummified remains found in restaurant in Morioka|
|Police said Tuesday that a mummified body was found earlier this month in a storage cabinet in a restaurant in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. (Japan Today )|
|Jun 19||Traffic lights on the blink / Many too old for use; some even collapse|
|Among about 200,000 traffic signals nationwide, 16 percent are being used beyond the end of the expected lifetime of their electrical systems and some have even toppled over due to age, according to the National Police Agency. (Yomiuri )|
|Jun 19||Local govts wary of Mt. Fuji 'traffic jam'|
|Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, will likely see its summer "traffic jam" of climbers worsen this year thanks to its expected addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List. (Yomiuri )|
|Jun 19||'Abenomics' not raising low-end prostitution prices in Tokyo|
|In May, Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men's entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), said that "Abenomics" had caused a spike in prices at high-end soapland bathhouses in Tokyo. However, the same editor tells Shukan Post (June 28) that the initiative is not impacting the low-end market in the same way. (Tokyo Reporter )|
|Jun 18||Best biwa selected as gift for Imperial Household|
|A competition has been held near Tokyo to choose the season's best loquats, or biwa fruit, to be presented to the Imperial Household. (NHK )|
|Jun 18||64-year-old woman arrested for stabbing 59-year-old boyfriend|
|Police said Monday they have arrested a 64-year-old woman in connection with the murder of her 59-year-old partner in Seki, Gifu Prefecture. (Japan Today )|
|Jun 18||Tokyo cops bust Gotanda massage parlor for prostitution, arrest 7|
|Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday announced the bust of a massage parlor in the Gotanda area of Shinagawa Ward on charges of prostitution. (Tokyo Reporter )|
|Jun 18||Ex-Aum death-row inmates to testify in open court|
|Tokyo District Court decided on Monday to open planned examinations of three witnesses who are former senior members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult and now death-row inmates, during an upcoming trial of another former senior Aum member. (Jiji Press )|