Are unions legal in Japan?

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The right to form a union is protected by the Constitution of Japan as well as the Labor Union Law. Employees are allowed to form unions in Japan as long as the union is formed independently, mostly by employees and its main purpose is improving the working conditions and economic status of the employees.

Labor unions can be formed without the consent of the company but they should be operated democratically among their members. While most labor unions in Japan are formed based on companies, unions based on geographical regions or industries can also be formed. Since labor unions are considered a kind of group, they can be formed freely at any time as long as there are at least two members. Unlike America, there is no rule limiting company negotiation to the largest union, so unions of only two people may also collectively bargain with the company. Of course, the more members that join the union, the more bargaining power the union will have in negotiating with the company. Companies may not refuse to collectively bargain with a union without good reason.

If you have any questions about working condition laws in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.