10        For Better Labor Relations    

The maintenance of sound and stable labor relations forms the basis for Japanese economic and social development, and therefore we must make further efforts to stabilize labor relations.Particularly in recent years, the environment surrounding Japanese labor and management has been changing drastically, with fewer children per household and the rapid aging of the population, globalization of the economy and progress of deregulation.In order to deal adequately with such changes in social and economic conditions, it is necessary for both labor and management to first recognize their social responsibilities, and try to reach a peaceful settlement of problems through voluntary dialogue between them, based on a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.
      The Ministry of Labour has been promoting various measures from this viewpoint.Considering, in particular, that it is important to promote dialogue between labor and management at various levels, including that of industries and individual enterprises, the Ministry has been endeavoring to form better relations through the Industry and Labor Round-table Conference.

Seventyth May Day Celebration

Characteristics of Japanese Labor Unions

The number of Japanese workers in trade unions is about 12,090,000, or about 22% of all employees.Generally speaking, trade unions in Japan are basically organized at the level of each enterprise.These enterprise-based unions are then grouped into industrial federations and centralized national labor organizations, such as Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation).
      Other characteristics of the trade union movement in Japan are: i) every spring (March-April), labor-management negotiations take place in the form of the "Spring Offensive" (Shunto in Japanese) by enterprise-based unions, under the direction and coordination of the centralized national organizations and industrial federations, to determine wages and other working conditions; and ii) mutual understanding between labor and management has deepened in recent years producing relatively stable labor-management relations within individual enterprises.
      Additionally, Rengo and other organizations are pursuing their requests at the policy level including issuing labor policy opinions and conducting other lobbying activities related to policies and systems to the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Minister of Labour and organizing national movements for the realization of certain policies and systems.

I. The Industry and Labor Round-table Conference

In view of the importance of industry and labor problems in our country's economic development, the Industry and Labor Round-table Conference is generally convened once a month, to provide a forum for talks among top leaders of the government, labor and management, as well as other knowledgeable and experienced people, to obtain their opinions concerning industry and labor policies and enlist their cooperation, and also to gain better mutual understanding among the parties concerned.
      In addition, assistance is provided to facilitate labor-management consultations and other forms of communication at the level of each prefecture, industry and individual enterprise/establishment.

220th Industry and Labor Round-Table Conference
(May 27,1999)

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