National Wage Determination in Japan

Clair Brown, Yoshifumi Nakata, Michael Reich and Lloyd Ulman

in Work and Pay in the United States and Japan

Published in print January 1998 | ISBN: 9780195115215
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854820 | DOI:
National Wage Determination in Japan

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This chapter analyzes how Shunto—Japan's Annual Spring Labor Offensive—has transformed from a wage-boosting mechanism in the high-growth period of the 1960s and early 1970s into an engine of restraint since the mid-1970s. It illustrates that as a response to the demise of industry-wide bargaining during the 1940s and to the weakness of enterprise-based unions, militant union leaders introduced a system of coordinated bargaining across firms and industries on an economy-wide basis. Shunto was at first intended to redress the power imbalance and advance real wages to Western levels as rapidly as possible. However, after a violent wage explosion in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis threatened the economy with inflation, unemployment, and a loss of international competitiveness, a transformation of the system occurred and it was used to restrain wage movements below productivity growth, assuring the international competitiveness of the export sector.

Keywords: Shunto; Labor Offensive; enterprise-based unions; union leaders; wage explosion; oil crisis; wage movements

Chapter.  15311 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Business

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