JAPAN: Biggest Raise Ever

Like the famed "bullet train" that rockets from Tokyo to Kyoto at 125 m.p.h., Japanese wage rates are rushing ahead at a speed unmatched anywhere else. In last month's shunto, or "spring offensive," Japanese unions won pay raises for 35 million workers averaging 31.4%—the biggest across-the-board increase on record for any industrialized society. The boosts will place many once lowly paid Japanese workers on a par with their European counterparts. The typical steel worker's pay (not including fringe benefits) rose from the 1973 level of $493 a month to $650. Auto...