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Labour relations in Japan's postwar coal industry : the 1960 Miike lockout Price, John


The essay explores the events and background of the 1960 lockout at the Miike colleries of the Mitsui Mining Co. in Kyushu, Japan. The dispute, one of the longest and most violent in postwar labour history, occurred at the same time as the anti-U.S.-Japan security treaty struggle and the two events capped 15 years of social turbulence after the war. At issue in the Miike case was the designated dismissal of 1200 miners. In analyzing the events at Miike the author challenges current assumptions about the so-called three pillars of Japanese labour-management relations (lifetime employment, enterprise unions, and seniority-based wages). Couterposed are four factors—capitalist rationalism, worker egalitarianism, enterprise corporatism, and liberal democracy—the combination of which lend Japanese labour-management relations their specific character in any given instance. The essay also explores the particular role of the Japan Federation of Employers Organizations (Nikkeiren) in other labour disputes in the 1950s as well as at Miike. The economic background to the Miike strike is also analyzed, in particular, the political aspects of the rationalization of the coal industry. The final chapter deals with relief measures for unemployed coal miners and coal companies during the 1960s.

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