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.
|Mar 08||Japanese girl bitten 100 times in New Zealand dog attack|
|New Zealand doctors said Friday that a 7-year-old Japanese girl was bitten about 100 times during a dog mauling that has horrified many in the South Pacific nation. (USA Today )|
|Mar 08||Fewer than 40 pct of Tokyo residents, commuters prepared for quake|
|Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )|
|Mar 08||Japanese men do near the least housework|
|An international survey shows Japanese men fell into a group doing the least housework. (NHK )|
|Mar 07||Kashiwa murder suspect says he wanted to fly hijacked plane into Skytree|
|The man under arrest for fatally stabbing one man and wounding three others during a 10-minute rampage in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Monday night, told police on Thursday that he wanted to hijack a plane at Haneda airport and fly it into Tokyo Skytree to take revenge on society. (Japan Today )|
|Mar 07||Serial underwear thief operated in three prefectures|
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|Mar 07||Kashiwa stabbing suspect's identity: 'celeb NEET'|
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|Mar 07||Under 20 pct of nonregular male workers in 20s have girlfriends|
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|Mar 06||24-year-old man arrested over knife attacks in Kashiwa|
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|Mar 06||World's oldest woman turns 116 in Japan|
|The world's oldest woman was celebrating her 116th birthday on Wednesday in a Japanese nursing home with a cake and candles. (inquirer.net )|
|Mar 06||5 men arrested for involvement in forced prostitution case|
|Saitama prefectural police have arrested five men for their involvement in a case in which an 18-year-old girl was held captive and then forced into prostitution. (Japan Today )|