Essay Example on Trade Unions in Japan

Published: 2022-10-04
Essay Example on Trade Unions in Japan
Type of paper:  Article
Categories:  Human resources Employment law
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1784 words
15 min read

For the productive potential of an economy to keep improving it should have access to quality raw materials, a sound technological base and a reasonable labor force. This is the case for Japan. The economy of the country was destroyed during World War II. However, now Japan experiences annual economic growths that surpass those of many of the developed countries. This can be attributed solely to the labor relations in the country. The labor relations in the country are excellent due to the vast number of trade unions in operation. These trade unions have made the workforce in Japan better than ever, and the results are shown in the economic growth. Japanese trade unions play an essential role in the economic development of the country due to their unique characteristics and practice.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!


The most noticeable feature of trade unions in Japan is their practice of democracy and equality. Trade unions in Japan have strict rules on impartiality. All activities within the union are conducted democratically from elections to all decision making. All the members of the union have an equal voice on the day to day running of the union. By doing everything democratically, the unions ensure that the members remain loyal to their unions as they feel that they matter. Holding fair and democratic elections also help to ensure that good leader are elected. These people will fairly represent the wishes of the workers to their employers instead of someone that would have just been easily swayed.

The second characteristic of these trade unions is the practice of pacifism. It is not uncommon for trade unions to have disputes with employers. Many unions prefer to go on strike and at times destroy the employer's equipment and tools. This is not the case in Japan. Many trade unions in Japan believe that if they have any disputes or grievances against companies and employers, they should be settled in a peaceful and fairway. Many employers appreciate this lack of violence, and as a result, they are more willing to solve the issues that the unions have with them. This lack of violence helps their cause as no employee loses their job as a result, while they still get what they want from the employers.

Another characteristic of trade unions in Japan that makes them different from the rest of the world is they are organized by the company, and that trade unions are specifically for the workers of the company. In many countries, trade unions are made to cater to the needs of employees in an entire given sector. For example in America, a trade union may be formed for employees of vehicle manufacturing companies. This is not the case in Japan. Every company organizes its trade union even though there might be numerous other unions by other companies in the same industry. When a company that produces vehicles is formed, it has to take into consideration starting its union even though there might be other companies in the same manufacturing sector with trade unions. This has led to Japan having numerous trade unions, more than 20000.

Many trade unions in Japan also barely strike. In 1971, Japan witnessed a total of 9581 strikes which involved 3620283 workers and lasted more than half a day. This was the time that strikes and go-slows were rampant to trade unions in Japan. Over recent years, the frequency and severity of these strikes and go-slows have reduced drastically. In 2013 for example, the number of strikes that were witnessed were just 71. This is mainly because of the trade unions being of one company. If employees of a particular company have problems with the management, the employees of that company alone will organize a strike, and the rest of the companies in the sector will be safe from the strike. However, striking is the last resort for these trade unions. These trade unions are oriented to the well being of their company. This is because the competition between companies in Japan is very high and for a company to succeed, the number of strikes it experiences should be as low as possible. Hence they barely strike and more often than not resort to dialogue instead.

Another feature of trade unions in Japan is their belief of fair distribution of benefits got from improvements of productivity to all the stakeholders involved. This is one of the features that make Japanese trade unions different from other trade unions. When, for example, a company receives a capital investment from a new investor, the trade unions advocate for the benefits got from this investment to be rolled out to consumers and employees too. This has made the public loyalty the trade unions' cause as they also get something out of their efforts. The unions also fight for the employees to get something out of the investment. They can get some raise or even incentives. This will, in turn, improve the morale of the workers thus the productivity will improve.

Japanese trade unions also have union solidarity. This is the concept of 'all for one and one for all.' For example, when one union is pushing for a particular reform in the industry, all the other unions are also in it. If the employers in that industry decide that they are not going to at least sit down with the particular union and discuss the terms of the reform, all the other trade unions join in. This is in an attempt to make the companies in the sector make the suggested changes. This is also the case with the employees in these unions. They believe that they are all in it together and if one of them has a problem, then all of them do. This has been one of the reasons that these unions have been very successful.

The trade unions also believe in respect for human rights. This encompasses other fundamental rights like the right to assemble and the freedom of speech. This makes the unions listen to the opinions of their members no matter how different they might be. Since they respect the rights of everyone, they practice caution whenever they have protests or strikes in order not to infringe on the rights of other people. These characteristics have been the main reason for the success of the trade unions in Japan.

Consequences to Foreign Companies

The unique practices and characteristics of these Japanese trade union make it hard for foreign businesses to start their business in Japan, while at the same time making it more comfortable in some sectors. Trade unions in Japan are backed up by one another; it would be difficult for a company to get away with something as much as it was getting away with it before. For example, in the case of late payments to employees. Many companies the world over are used to paying their employees late, and no one is raising a finger in protest. This would not be the case in Japan. The company would be forced to follow the rules to the latter this might interfere with the planning of the finances of the company.

Furthermore, the unions expect the investments and improvement in the production to be rolled over to the employees and consumers. This might be a new experience for a foreign company. Implementing this will reduce the amount of money that the company has to spend. The result is stricter company budgets. This might discourage many foreign companies from moving their operations to Japan.

The lack of raw materials is another aspect that might chase potential investors and companies away from Japan. Natural resources in Japan are at an all-time low. Businesses and companies are forced to import the raw materials that they use in the production process. This might be a deal breaker for most foreign companies as the cost of production will have to increase tremendously thus the profits will reduce. Furthermore, the competition between companies in Japan is at an all-time high. Many companies are competing for the little resources that are there. Some companies may look at this competition and shun away from investing in Japan.

On the other hand, companies may prefer moving their operations to Japan because of the pacifistic nature of the trade unions. These companies will look at the way that the trade unions can sit with the employers of their members and discuss openly and come to terms that they can all agree on, and love it. The foreign companies will also like the fact that the Japanese trade unions avoid as much as possible going on strikes and other nonproductive ways of airing their grievances. This will guarantee them that production in their companies will not be disrupted without warning. The workforce in Japan is unlike in any other country. The workers in Japan are more diligent and dutiful in their jobs. They produce better quality products than their counterparts in other countries. Foreign companies may look at this and decide to move to Japan.

The effects of the trade unions can be felt even in the day to day activities in the country. For example, employees perform their tasks and duties more professionally and diligently as they are better paid due to the unions. These better-performing employees can provide their services in a better way and thus better services and products. This is different than in Europe and North America as in these two continents, trade unions are perceived as organizations which are made to hamper the growth of a firm. In Japan, trade unions are seen as a voice for the employees and a way for the employer and the employee to work together.


Trade unions are important to the economy of every country. The characteristics of these Japanese trade unions make them vital for both the Japanese economy and the companies and businesses in the country. This importance gets further emphasized in the case of the Japanese trade unions. These trade unions have different characteristics from the trade unions in other countries. This has been the main reason for their success. They prefer a pacifistic approach to negotiations and respect human rights. The unions in Japan also have union solidarity. These characteristics make the Japanese business sector different from the rest of the world. This may provide both challenges and opportunities for foreign companies that want to expand their operations to Japan. For example, companies may prefer the pacifistic nature of these trade unions while at the same time frown upon the trade unions' policy of the customers and employees getting benefits from improvements in production. Having proper trade union practices can ensure the trade of a country grows several folds as the case is in Japan.

Cite this page

Essay Example on Trade Unions in Japan. (2022, Oct 04). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism