The Rise and Fall of Labor Management Consultations (Roshi Kyogisei) in Japan

  • Albrecht RothacherEmail author


Japan is a clear case of informal non-codified labor-management relations and consultations. This chapter retraces their institutional development after the tumultuous pre- und postwar labor struggles toward a system of cooperative enterprise unions, lifetime employment for stem workers, seniority-based wages, job rotation, extensive corporate fringe benefits, shop-floor quality circles ritualistic corporate wage negotiations, and tripartite wage and labor policy consultations at sectoral and national levels. During Japan’s high-growth era of the 1960s–1980s, they were propagated worldwide as the Human Resource (HR) management and labor relations secret of Japan’s economic miracle. In the long-lasting period of persistent economic stagnation since the 1990s, however, labor-management consultations at all levels were used to achieve acceptance of cost cuttings and of restructuring, to axe fringe benefits, to freeze wages, and to cut bonuses and overtime pay in exchange for job protection and delayed dismissals.

As a result, unionization rates declined with far-reaching political consequences as did the role of the institutions of social dialogue in Japan. This chapter in conclusion shows the limits of voluntary consultation mechanisms, most of which like the myth of a Japan-specific corporate family concept gradually evaporated during the prolonged economic crisis.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European External Action ServiceWoluwe-Saint-PierreBelgium

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