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Work and Pay in the United States and Japan$
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Clair Brown, Michael Reich, Lloyd Ulman, and Yoshifumi Nakata

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195115215

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195115215.001.0001

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National Wage Determination in Japan

National Wage Determination in Japan

(p.158) 6 National Wage Determination in Japan
Work and Pay in the United States and Japan

Clair Brown

Yoshifumi Nakata

Michael Reich

Lloyd Ulman

Oxford University Press

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

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