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Japan, labor protest, 1945–present

Masao Inoue

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Eastern Asia » Japan

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics labor movements, labor unions, revolution, student movements, wages

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00821.x


It is possible to divide Japan's six-decade postwar labor movement into three distinctive periods. The first lasted from 1948 to the 1973 oil crisis. At this time, during the Korean War and the “Red Purge,” the Sohyo Federation (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan), formed under the approving watch of GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Powers) and SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers), gradually developed stronger leftist tendencies. At the same time, the Sanbetsu Federation (Japan Council of Industrial Labor Unions), which had ties to the Japanese Communist Party, had declined. Thus, Sohyo was able to play a powerful role in improving labor conditions and was active on various political fronts. The second period lasted from the 1973 oil crisis to the collapse of Japan's bubble economy at the beginning of the 1990s. During this time Sohyo had lost its ability to influence unions in the private enterprise sector, as corporate management undertook rationalization measures in response to the economic recession that followed the oil crisis. In contrast, the Domei Federation (Japan Federation of Labor) and IMF-JC (Japan Council of International Metalworkers' Federation), which were nationwide rightist unions, enlarged their power to boost wages. In line with the policies favored by these rightist labor unions, Japan's two major labor federations, Sohyo and Domei, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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