Japan’s Unionization Rate Rises for First Time Since 1975

Japan’s overall unionization rate picked up for the first time since 1975, as the membership among regular employees has sharply increased, it was announced by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The estimated unionization rate (percentage of union members among all employees) for 2009 was 18.5 percent, up 0.4 points from the preceding year., according to the government’s survey conducted in June. Increased membership among non-permanent workers on top of shrinking labor population is considered to have contributed to the rise in percentage.

The union membership ratio in Japan stopped falling for the first time in 27 years in 2007, mainly because of the mounting expectation for demand for union help, as the unemployment rate remained high. The survey showed that the number of union members grew to 10,078 million, while the number of unions decreased by 269 to 26,696.

Among industries, accommodation and food services saw their unionization rate increase significantly by 11.2 percent, compared to the previous year, followed by a 6.9 percent rise for wholesale and retail industries and 4 percent for transport and postal services. While the rate deceased, both for construction work businesses and civil workers by 3.1 percent.