JPRI Working Paper No. 35, July 1997
Japan's Fading Labor Movement
by Charles Weathers

The fundamental raison d'etre of Japan's enterprise unions is, at least in principle, the protection of the jobs of workers as members of enterprises-expressed in the ideal of lifetime employment. As much ideology as real practice, lifetime employment has closely matched the "company-oriented" nature of Japanese society, including the desires of workers for stable employment and the efforts of managers to secure high commitment from workers and enhance their firms' reputations by showing responsibility for the employees' well-being. Although the principle of lifetime employment is often breached through transfers and so-called voluntary early retirements, large companies frequently go to expensive lengths to protect livelihoods, especially during economic downturns. In return, most unions have moderated wage demands, readily acquiesced to workplace reorganization and rationalization, and, when necessary, mediated worker transfers and downsizing.

However, the pressures of globalization and an ever intensifying market are diminishing the usefulness of the lifetime employment paradigm for employers. Employers are also becoming less willing to adhere to the traditional shunto (spring offensive) collective bargaining practices. Most sizeable companies, whether union or nonunion, make extensive use of joint consultations in conducting personnel relations, and many have established employee associations (jugyoin soshiki) to supplement or replace unions. To compensate for its weakness on the shop floor, the mainstream of organized labor has sought to strengthen its political and policymaking voice. While this input into policymaking may be quite valuable to society at large, it does little to bolster the prestige of unions among workers or the general public. Further, despite nominal unification in 1989 under the banner of the national labor center, Rengo, the mainstream of the labor remains politically divided. The upshot is that Japan's unions, although still important, are less and less valued by companies, employees, or the average Japanese. As the pressures of globalization encourage managers to extol a more market-oriented ideology and adopt more market-driven employment practices, organized labor appears increasingly unable to protect working conditions, especially for non-elite workers.

Enterprise Unionism Today

Enterprise unionism, lifetime employment, and seniority pay have served as the core elements of the so-called Japanese Employment System. The system became institutionalized during the high growth era as major firms developed extensive welfare programs to keep workers content and to cope with constant labor shortages.

The main pillar of the lifetime employment system is stable companies (especially large ones like Toyota) with the resources to ride out economic downturns. However, economic changes have eroded much of the insulation from market pressures that large companies used to enjoy. Since the mid-1980s, Japanese firms have been forced to send increasing amounts of manufacturing offshore, while the main bank systems and supplier-and-buyer networks, which used to help ensure a steady flow of business, have been substantially weakened. To cope with a more competitive era, the Japan Federation of Employers Associations, Nikkeiren, has been trumpeting "Japanese management for a new era," and firms are stepping up use of performance-based pay, contract workers, and other measures intended to make workplaces more flexible and competitive. Contrary to a wave of anecdotes, the Japanese employment system (especially lifetime employment) does not appear to be breaking down, although it seems certain to erode over time as big firms cut back hiring and expectations change. Most young Japanese no longer expect to spend their entire careers in a single firm, nor are they enticed by prospects of working for relatively low pay in the early stages of their careers within a seniority wage structure.

The most obvious sign of danger for the labor movement is a declining organization rate, officially placed at 23.2% (20.2% in the private sector) in June 1996. Japan and two other weak-union countries, the U.S. and France, are the only industrialized countries to have seen their organization rates fall throughout the post- 1973 era. In Japan, the decline cannot be attributed to changing economic structures alone since rates have recently dropped within specific industries. Even more serious than the decline in the organization rate, however, is kumiai-banare (distancing from unions), the decreasing concern for or awareness of unions on the part of workers.

Most Japanese unions are enterprise unions, based within a single firm, and including employees of that firm only. Enterprise unions possess a number of potential advantages over other forms of organization: they are well placed to know the situation, including the financial conditions, of their firms in detail, and they are therefore able to shape their bargaining demands accordingly. Since their raison d'etre naturally tends to be the protection of workers' jobs within the firm, enterprise unions are supposed to be capable of mobilizing strong worker resistance to dismissals. In reality, however, many enterprise unions are controlled by their companies. One reason is that Japan's industry-wide unions are weak, meaning that a union's identity is closely linked with that of its firm and there are few independent resources to counter management pressures.

One result is that, generally speaking, the major enterprise unions call the shots for the industrial unions as a whole. In the Japan Auto Workers Union, the Toyota and Nissan unions have controlled the top posts and set policy. In almost all sectors, the enterprise unions keep most (around 80%) of the dues, leaving the industrial unions (18%) and the main national federation, Rengo (2%),sdddwsz badly underfunded. In addition, most top-caliber people are reluctant to move out of their companies into industrial unions, although some go on a short-term basis, often two years, and then return to their firms.

Since union officials almost always return to employee status upon leaving their union posts, they are reluctant to challenge management. Many, especially in larger firms, become managers immediately upon leaving the union.1 (In a few sectors, unions probably form part of the career track, but the relationship is not necessarily clear-cut.) Low social status, lack of benefits, and the pressures of being caught between managers and employees mean that few people these days want to become union officials, or remain for long in their posts. A union hoping to recruit a person with a talent for personnel relations is likely to find itself in (an uphill) competition with the company's personnel department. While experience in a union was once considered one of the best paths to promotion in many companies, that no longer seems to be the case, perhaps because there is so little concern about militancy. (Today, experience in planning departments (kikakubu) may be the most advantageous qualification.)

Most union members join automatically through union shop arrangements, so many employees simply regard joining the company's union as a condition of their jobs. Since most unions do not actively recruit or compete for members, they do not, as Wolfgang Seifert has pointed out, have to shape their policies to attract employees.2 In addition, labor-management relations in Japan operate primarily through consultation rather than negotiation. Even when collective bargaining is conducted, the major points have generally been decided beforehand in informal discussions. Grievance procedures also tend to be informal. One recent Rengo survey found that only one-third of the cases of employment adjustments involving personnel reductions involved collective bargaining.3 Whether unions have significant influence or not, the extensive use of informal consultation leads employees to suspect union-management collusion. Moreover, employee interest in unions probably declined after the mid-1970s, when slow growth meant low wage rises. Unions have tried to use such things as recreational programs to keep people interested, but apparently without much success.

Unions do play important roles in mediating personnel issues such as workplace reorganization and transfers. Lower-level supervisors often double as union representatives, enabling them, informally and effectively, to mediate solutions to workplace issues such as rationalization. Since many managers have served as union officials, they can draw on well-honed insights into personnel issues. Unions also mediate transfers and help undertake the increasingly difficult task of placing workers in declining industries in new positions. Big steel, which has recently eliminated thousands of jobs, is perhaps the most dramatic case. Since subcontractors are much less willing to take on redundant workers than in the past, some unions find themselves going to great lengths to find new sources of employment. Although employees appear often to accept the necessity of the transfers, the mediation of the unions is unlikely to raise their profile with the rank and file.

Free elections and other union protections are legally guaranteed, but employers often ignore them. One manager in a major steel firm mentioned to me in passing that the firm used "informal means" to help ensure that the right people get picked. When plural unions exist, employers make sure that employees join the preferred union. During my research on labor-management relations in the Japan Railways, where three major unions are in competition, I was told by union officials and employees that the companies broke or sidestepped rules in various ways, such as passing copies of new hire lists to the favored union (an unfair labor practice, because the information confers an advantage in contacting the new employees), and sending obvious signals to employees about which union to join and which not to join. The employees were largely indifferent and did as they were signalled. A young employee who described the situation to me had asserted her independence by not joining any union; but that option is not available in many companies, where the job may be contingent on union membership. It has been suggested that the three-union JR case is extreme; but I believe that while it is unusual today, it reflects a longer process in which left-wing unionism, lacking legal protection and a committed membership, has largely disappeared from major enterprises thanks to management pressure.4

One major cause of a declining organization rate is that few Japanese unions go out and organize. Enterprise unions are, by definition, generally unconcerned with either outside organizing or organizing part-time and temporary workers in their own firms. The industrial unions and the national federation, Rengo, constantly proclaim new organizing campaigns, but in fact they have few resources for the job. Very few industrial unions even have full-time organizers. A regional official for the Electrical and Electronics Workers' Union (Denki Rengo) told me that organizing efforts typically involve sending literature to a nonunion company's personnel managers. It is not hard to imagine what happens to the materials.

Not only are organization efforts badly lagging, but it appears that there is little incentive for employees to organize themselves, and that managers have means other than unions to elicit employee input. Labor economist Tsuru Tsuyoshi has recently helped conduct a pair of large-scale surveys that provide some clues to recent changes in labor-management relations.5 The results suggest that employee associations do give labor a voice with regard to working conditions, but less than that provided by labor unions, and that neither unions nor employee associations have much effect on wages. This is bad news given that the results also suggest that Japanese workers value unions primarily for their abilities to raise wages although they believe Japanese unions actually have little influence on wages. (They are probably correct in their belief since labor economists and industrial sociologists have consistently failed to find that unions have any effect on wages, although there may be a union effect on bonuses.) On the other hand, high dues, upwards of 4000 yen a month, are a disincentive to joining unions. Employees undoubtedly regarded the union wage effect as being stronger in the 1960s and 1970s, when the left wing of the labor movement was more influential.

Japanese union leaders often stress that one of the union's most important functions is to promote communication within the firm, and many researchers basically concur by arguing that unions protect employee interests through indirect means. Even if true, the issue illustrates part of the unions' dilemma: the benefits they bring tend to be indirect, even within the firm, while the manipulation of union practices by managers is often rather obvious.


Shunto wage bargaining has constituted one of the main foundations of union prestige in Japan. Though it is none too clear that shunto really raises wages much- during its golden age in the 1960s, high growth and labor shortages accomplished that, and it afterward functioned more to facilitate wage restraint-it nonetheless has had a major impact on the consciousness of workers and the public. For workers, shunto demonstrations and strikes once provided opportunities to feel that they were participating in decision-making. Because pay settlements in leading sectors like steel and autos became pattern-setters for nationwide pay adjustments, shunto also helped to create a sense that union efforts helped everyone to gain a fair share of the national wealth. Although public interest has declined, along with the levels of wage rises, shunto has come to serve as an important forum for unions to push their policymaking agenda.

The years 1996 and 1997 have seen a major weakening of the shunto structure, mainly because of growing performance differentials among firms and pressures from globalization. For some four decades shunto was underpinned by the relative evenness of economic growth, along with the insulation from market pressures of many sectors-the public corporations, finance, distribution, energy. That made it relatively easy to offer more or less standardized (percentage) pay raises. (The Japanese generally use the term yoko-narabi, or side-by-side-i.e., equal, but generally only the percentage, not the amount, is at issue; wage leveling has never really been an objective of the shunto participants.) Today, growing differentials are making it more difficult for companies to coordinate their settlements, and tougher market conditions are undermining their willingness to do so. Moreover, a growing number of companies are shifting to more individualistic performance-based pay systems (which also allow for less of a union role in wage decisions at the enterprise level), while economic deregulation is generating more pressure to hold down personnel costs.

During the spring of 1997, four major changes marked the evolution of shunto toward a more market-driven and enterprise-centered institution. First, unions in big steel introduced a new shunto formula, in which wages will be negotiated every other year instead of annually. Big steel was once the leading shunto pattern-setter, but the severe slump experienced by the industry since the mid-1980s has led to greatly reduced pay settlements. The steelworkers' unions are concerned that they devote too many resources to yearly wage bargaining, only to attain settlements too meager to satisfy the rank and file.

Second, employers in the private railway industry withdrew unilaterally from centralized wage bargaining, forcing the unions to negotiate at the enterprise level. The private railway industry has been a pillar of shunto because the unions are relatively strong and the industry is insulated from economic fluctuations. These factors enabled the unions to win relatively generous settlements and serve as a model for other sectors. For this reason, Nikkeiren has been pressuring the companies to terminate centralized bargaining and lower their settlements.

Third, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co. (Mitsui Kinzoku) switched to performance-based pay systems. Although there has been a lot of talk about performance pay, most companies are instituting it rather cautiously, mainly because it is really still in an experimental stage. It should be noted that Japanese companies have long used various forms of merit pay; however, wage differentials within firms have remained relatively small. Employers want to start increasing differentials, especially among white-collar workers, to improve motivation. Takeda and Mitsui Kinzoku became two of the first firms in traditional industries actually to make such changes, and Mitsui Kinzoku's union is the first major Rengo affiliate to break away from the shunto wage bargaining structure.

The fourth change is that employers are shifting the composition of the settlements from basic pay toward bonuses. This allows them to reign in long-term wage costs since bonuses do not impact either future wages or fringe benefits such as pensions and retirement lump-sums (which serve as de facto severance pay for increasing numbers of workers).

The most interesting sector in 1997's shunto was the auto industry, whose prosperity made it the clear union choice for chief pattern-setter (unions in other sectors are then supposed to try to match the settlement). Toyota, which is making huge profits, adopted a tough stance about holding down wage costs, then surprised the business world when, just before the settlement deadline, it unilaterally increased its offer by 100 yen. Having already agreed to 9300 yen, the Toyota union representative either "was at a loss for words" or gushed "tears of gratitude," depending on which newspaper you read. In fact, the Japan Auto Workers Union, the auto industry's industrial union, was embarrassed, to say the least, since its propensity to demand less than management can afford to pay was a bit too clearly exposed. A new black joke making the rounds of the industry was that the workers now trust Toyota more than they do their union.

Toyota's purpose in unilaterally raising the settlement is not totally clear, but it apparently decided to snub the industrial union for attempting to reduce differentials among the firms. Toyota traditionally awards pay raises that are 300 yen more than those of Honda and other rivals, so it probably decided that it had to maintain the differential to retain its prestige. It may have been warning the union against any further attempts to encroach on its decision-making sphere. Toyota President Okuda Hiroshi also gave an interview mocking the traditional shunto practice of linking wages with those of other firms, declaring this to be an era of yusho-reppai (survival of the fittest). Toyota's action and Okuda's remark suggest that the company intends to free itself from the constraints of the consensus decision-making tradition, of which shunto has been a part.

Politics and Policymaking

From a seemingly promising position in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the political situation of organized labor has badly deteriorated. The national federation, Rengo, was founded in 1987, at a time when rising prosperity and confidence led the Japanese to want to devote more attention to quality-of-life issues such as reduced working hours. The federation has since established itself as an important social policymaker, but its influence over economic matters remains limited. Moreover, it remains divided on a number of key issues, and its political strategy is in ruins.

The nation's major unions momentarily overcame their divisions in the 1980s to establish Rengo, the first national labor organization to encompass most (61%) of Japan's unionized employees. Rengo's establishment was, in part, a culmination of organized labor's efforts to reduce its emphasis on wage bargaining and strengthen its participation in social and economic policymaking after the end of the 1970s era of high growth. It also reflected the loss of influence of the left and of the left-wing labor federation Sohyo, which dissolved itself into Rengo in 1989, largely to preserve its dwindling influence over policy. Even before the Cold War ended, there was no longer much significant ideological friction between the left and right wings of the labor movement. But while the old ideological divides are largely gone, the historic contention between Sohyo and the right-wing federation Domei lives on (in attenuated form) in fundamental divisions over economic interest and social outlook.

Rengo has pursued two main agendas. The first is a broad program aimed at improving living standards. The second is a political strategy seeking to foster a moderate liberal opposition party strong enough to challenge the dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The overall agenda is largely the work of moderate "former Sohyo" unions. Most business-oriented unions (especially those from the former Domei federation) are more concerned with protecting their industries than pursuing the expansive social programs favored by left-leaning unions. There is considerable disagreement over the political program, including criticism of the leadership for devoting too much time to political activities. Meanwhile, the preferences of the "former Domei" unions are often far from clear.

Rengo, in pursuit of its policy program, operates through a wide network of contacts in business, bureaucracy, and the political parties, and its union representatives participate in hundreds of policy deliberation councils. On the other hand, representing just over 14% of employees nationwide and composed primarily of enterprise unions, Rengo flexes little real muscle to back its demands. The federation's biggest successes have been in socially beneficial programs with relatively low costs. They are also generally low-profile. Professor Tsuru has stated, "Rengo has, since its founding, achieved steady successes such as a child care law, a part-time labor law, and a tax reduction. However, the negotiating process is a black box, and the actual situation is that neither general union members nor non-union members realize that the achievement of these institutional policy demands are accomplishments of the unions."6

Political scientist Igarashi Jin notes that the breadth of Rengo's policy agenda makes it appear as merely "an array of policy slogans;" another observer he cites stated that the program includes "something to please everyone." Professor Igarashi notes that critics commonly charge Rengo with essentially supporting government and LDP policies while appearing to emphasize a concern for labor interests. In addition, Rengo seems to duck certain controversial labor-related problems, notably allegations of widespread unfair labor practices when the Japan Railways were created from the Japan National Railways in 1987.7 In fact, there is no real doubt that one of the purposes of the breakup of the JNR was to smash the former majority union.

Above all, Rengo remains disunited, hindering policy formation on basic issues such as the consumption tax (on which the federation reversed its stance from opposition to passive support), liberalization of rice imports, women's working conditions, and nuclear power. Rengo has also been unable to decide its stance on fundamental political issues such as the status of the military and peace-keeping operations, and the security treaty with the U.S. Needless to say, this is a critical failing in an organization hoping to broker political outcomes.

Many of Rengo's political interventions have also proven unsuccessful. The federation did play an important behind-the-scenes role in forming Hosokawa's coalition government in mid-1993, particularly by persuading the reluctant Socialist Democratic Party (SDPJ) to join. That realized a Rengo ambition by reuniting the SDPJ with the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP). (The DSP was formed in 1959 when the right wing of the SDPJ, then the Japan Socialist Party, seceded.) Since the SDPJ had long backed Sohyo and the DSP backed Domei, reuniting the parties formed part of Rengo's agenda for strengthening its own internal organization as well as attempting to strengthen the political opposition.

Since that momentary (and illusory) triumph, however, the federation's political strategy has met a series of reverses. The SDPJ quit the coalition in less than a year, in May 1994, to form a new governing coalition with the LDP. Not only were the two "socialist" parties once again divided, but they (along with their unions) were divided between government and opposition, while Rengo tried to straddle the fissure. When the DSP joined the new opposition party, New Frontier, later that year, the former Domei unions found themselves in a dilemma. The party is no more than an alliance of convenience, and the unions dislike their partners, especially the Buddhist sect, Soka Gakkai, yet their support is important to the party's survival.

The SDPJ's alliance with the LDP did nothing to slow its own collapse, but it did enable the LDP to strengthen its influence in the former Sohyo unions tied to the SDPJ. Some key unions in turn supported a number of LDP candidates in the last election-more to protect their interests than from any new fondness for LDP policies, although LDP Secretary-General Kato Koichi made considerable progress in breaching old antagonisms between his party and the former Sohyo unions. The former Sohyo unions, long disenchanted with the SDPJ, started to increase the distance between themselves and the party, while searching for an alternative. The Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union (Jichiro), a pillar of the old Socialist-Sohyo bloc, backed the creation of the Democratic Party in August 1996. The former Sohyo unions then shifted their support to the new party in September, only to see it perform weakly in the election. (The formation of the party may have been a factor in the decision to hold an October election, as LDP leaders did not want to give it time to establish itself.)

The Democratic Party has since angered the unions through its support of LDP fiscal policies and its seeming disregard for labor issues. Thus the former Sohyo unions are considering shifting their support back to the SDPJ, clearly a sign of frustration given that party's weakness (it was decimated by defections and election losses in 1996). At the same time, Diet members with Sohyo backgrounds are reportedly waging an internal struggle to take control of the Democratic Party, and threatening to distort its policy program.8 Further complicating matters, some unions, notably Jichiro, are suffering considerable internal dissension over whether to support the SDPJ or the Democratic Party.

Rengo suffered another setback in February of 1997 as it failed to win support for its tax relief proposal. Rengo wanted to extend a special tax reduction, due to expire on April 1. (The tax break was originally enacted to soften public anger over a rise in the hated consumption tax, which rose from 3% to 5% on the same day, April 1.) The federation also attempted to use its tax demands as an issue around which to mobilize all the opposition parties (sans Communists) into a new anti-LDP coalition. The politicians showed little interest. The non-climax was a Diet sit-in staged by Rengo leaders in mid-February to dramatize their demands. That the media largely ignored the sit-in was probably a blessing in disguise since the public remained more or less unaware of yet another failed policy.

Current Issues

Labor and Rengo appear to be losing a number of fights over working conditions as employers press for further deregulation of the labor market. The Ministry of Labor is seeking to fundamentally revise the 1947 Labor Standards Law, and the Central Labor Standards Deliberation Committee is trying to expand the use of discretionary personnel practices and temporary (especially 3-to-5-year) contracts. The revisions may serve as opening wedges for larger changes. For example, the Ministry of Labor has just abolished provisions of the Labor Standards Law restricting overtime and night work for women; the object is not, of course, to provide equal opportunity, but to allow employers to cut costs by putting more (low-wage) women to work. Critics worry that no strong mechanisms exist to provide compensating benefits or to counter any subsequent trend toward assigning harder schedules to both men and women. The use of discretionary pay will also be greatly expanded. Discretionary pay essentially means that employees are paid only for contracted time (i.e., 8-hour days) regardless of how much overtime they work. The Ministry of Labor is quickly expanding the number of job categories to which discretionary pay can be applied because employers want greater flexibility in deploying white collar workers.

At the end of February, Rengo had to settle for a face-saving compromise on the issue of holding companies. Managers have wanted restrictions on holding companies abolished so that they can pursue more comprehensive restructuring, and existing labor laws will not cover some of the situations in the restructured companies of the future. (For example, will parent companies be responsible for employees of bankrupt subsidiaries?) However, the SDPJ, with most of its ties to unions severed, lost interest in opposing abolition of the Anti-Monopoly Law, apparently leaving Rengo with little choice but to settle for agreeing with Nikkeiren to study revision of the labor law for two years. The employers are insisting that actual revision of the Labor Standards Law is not a precondition of the agreement to study revision. And although the agreement to consider revision is supposed to be a compromise, journalists for the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan's major business newspaper) believe that in reality it gives the unions little leverage for negotiation.9

The regular work week in small firms was officially reduced from 44 to 40 hours in April 1997. Although work-hour reduction had already been delayed for some years, the Ministry of Labor decided in December that it would seek to secure compliance for the next two years through administrative guidance and, possibly, subsidies instead of direct enforcement. The Japan Labor Lawyers Association and the left-leaning National Metal and Machinery Workers of Japan (Kinzoku Kikai), which represents primarily workers in small- and mid-sized firms, are angered by the labor ministry's stance. However, the ministry may in fact have had little choice, since neither it nor the unions have enough personnel to monitor the new regulations.


Now that labor disputes and even open negotiations are a relic of the past in all but a very few industries, managers have less need to extend recognition to even cooperative unions. They can, for example, establish more pliable employee associations instead. Moreover, management not only is drawing high praise for innovations in production and marketing, but is totally upstaging the unions with innovations in personnel relations, such as Matsushita's plan to offer employees a choice of salary structures. Even when unions in Japan perform useful functions, they receive little credit, as in the case of many of Rengo's more successful policies. Instead of strengthening its voice over work organization-the preferred path for many European labor unions trying to stave off irrelevance in the age of globalization- Japan's labor movement has focused on strengthening its political voice, no easy task when unions are divided by economic interests in an increasingly complex economy. Despite its efforts, the labor movement has not even managed to secure implementation of a 40-hour work week for all workers. Given the powerful competitive pressures Japan exerts on its trading partners, such failures to raise working conditions to international standards are more than just a domestic concern.


1. A recent study of union official career patterns is Fujimura Hiroyuki, "Yunion-riidaa no kyaria keisei to jinzai kaihatsu" (Union Leaders' Career Formation and Personnel Development), in Inagami Takeshi, ed., Seijuku shakai no naka no kigyo-betsu kumiai: yunion aidentiti to yunion riidaa (Enterprises Unions in a Mature Society: Union Identity and Union Leaders) (Tokyo: Nihon Rodo Kenkyu Kiko, 1995), pp. 79-165.

2. Seifert, Wolfgang, "Some Thoughts on the Problem of Internal Union Democracy in Japan," Economic and Industrial Democracy 9 (1988), pp. 373-95.

3. Reported in an Asahi Shimbun editorial (4 September 1995, p. 5).

4. Robert Cole, in Japanese Blue Collar (1971), chapter 8, describes the unwillingness of the managers of auto parts firms to tolerate left-wing union leaders, and the consequent weakening of union democracy. Cole also argues that Marxism was an important sign of workers' independence from management.

5. Tsuyoshi Tsuru and James B. Rebitzer, "The Limits of Enterprise Unionism: Prospects for Continuing Union Decline in Japan." British Journal of Industrial Relations 33, No. 3 (September 1995); and Tsuyoshi Tsuru, Hayashi Hiroki, Shinoda Tooru, and Suzuki Tomohiro, Mu-kumiai kigyo no roshi kankei (Labor-management Relations in Nonunion Firms), Japan Institute of Labor, Chosa Kenkyu Hokokusho no. 88. (The results of the research are summarized in Tsuyoshi Tsuru, "Intrafirm Communication and Wage Determination in Japanese Nonunion Firms." Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University Discussion Paper Series A No. 327 (1996).)

6. Shukan Rodo Nyusu, 3 January 1997, p. 1.

7. Igarashi Jin, "Rengo no seisaku seido sanka" (Rengo's Institutionalized Policy Participation), Kikan Rodo Ho (Autumn 1994), pp. 6-24.

8. Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 14 February 1997, p. 2, and 15 February 1997, p. 2; 28 March 1997, p. 2.

9. Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 26 February 1997, p. 2, and 25 March 1997, p. 5. Asahi Shimbun (4 March 1997, p. 4) surveys the holding company issue with regard to labor issues and argues for revision of the labor law.

CHARLES WEATHERS is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University, in Tokyo. He obtained his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, in December 1995. He is conducting research on contemporary and historical industrial relations in Japan.

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