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Changing relations among the government, labor, and business in Japan after the oil crisis

Ikuo Kume

Abstract: Many scholars argue that labor is excluded from Japan's political system. However, since the 1970s, labor has become considerably influential in the policymaking process in Japan. The oil crisis of 1973 and theShuntouwage bargaining of 1975 have made labor, especially private-sector unions, modest in their wage demands, but at the same time these events have made labor participate actively in the policymaking process in order to maintain employment and seek some benefits from the government. This article demonstrates that Japan's increasing export-dependence and tradeoffs between wage increases on the one hand, and inflation and unemployment on the other in the 1970s, have driven labor to this new, more active role in policymaking, while the necessity for the governing Liberal Democratic party to seek a new constituency has enabled labor to achieve some success in this new role. This implies that Japan's political system has changed its nature since the 1970s; its political process has become more pluralistic with labor's participation within the existing political system.
Keywords: labor / 1970s / Japan's political system / crisis / made / oil / policymaking

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