JAPAN: Strike One

Along with cherry blossoms, spring in Japan brings an annual labor offensive conducted with all the stylized ritual of a tea ceremony. Unions make impossibly high demands; management counters with an unrealistically low offer—and just before a strike is called, the two sides meet somewhere more or less in the middle. But this year, with the economy still muddling along in a recession, management let it be known that it was in no mood for bargaining games, while labor demanded even more than the usual raise as a reward for past years of hard work. Instead of picking a...

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