54. Teachers strikes in Japan

                              Japanese version, here
Shoji Sugita

1. Strikes by teachers in Japan
Strikes by teachers are prohibited in Japan.
Strikes by public employees including certified teachers of public schools against the governments
are prohibited by Article 37 of the Local Public Employees Law.

It is hereby declared that a strike, concerted work stoppage or concerted refusal to perform lawful
duties in any maner shall be illegal. Nor public employee, group of public employees or public
employee organiazation shall promote, encourage or participate in any strike against the governments.

(Note) In the U.S. most of the state statues prohibit teacher strikes as the folloowing:
 NYS Civil Service Law....... New York State   Strikes
  Strikes by public employees against the State or any public authority or local governmental
  jurisdiction, including a school district, are prohibited by Article 14 of the Civil Service Law,
  also known as the Taylor Law.

However, in the few states, teacher has a limited right to strike like Ohio's.
 the Ohio Public Collective Bargaining Act :ァ 4117.03 Public employees rights.
 (2)  Public employees other than those listed in division (D)(1) of this section have the right to
    strike under Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code provided that the employee organization
    representing the employees has given a ten-day prior written notice of an intent to strike to
    the public employer and to the board, and further provided that the strike is for full, ..........
2. Collective bargaining
In Japan, public employee organizations are able to negotiate collectively with their public
employers on wages, hours and other conditions of employment, however,they are not able to
enter into collective bargaining agreements. Prefectural assemblies decide the lists of the wages
in the forms of prefectural Regulations : Ordinances.(Article 55)

And as the third impartial organization, a prefectural civil service committees reseraches the
wages of private businesses, comparing that of public employees' through a year. If necessary,
the committees recomends to the Governor and the Prefectural Assembly to improve or reduce
the wages of the public employees. Then the Governor amends the bill of the wages and the
Assembly incorporates this into their regulations.

Teachers unions ate able to negotiate with the school board on wages, hours and some other
conditions, and more social or health and welfare issues of teachers. If necessary, they are able
to exchange written documents on the issues. However, they are not able to make
bargaining agreements
, for as I described before, the local school boards or the prefectural
board of education don't have power to decide the wages for teachers of public schools in Japan.

The National Government and Prefectural government have to try to fullfil their duties on the
recommendations of the teachers' salaries by the National Personnel Authority and
prefectural civil service commission.
3. Teachers strikes
Recently in Japan, there are not any teacher strike. However, over twenty years ago, there were
many teacher strikes in the way of classrooms walk-outs for one or two hours in the morning all
over the country, and the teacher unions in many prefectures were requesting to make the local
governments fulfill the recommendations for wages by the prefectural civil service committees

Of course, these strikes were illegal. The prefectural boards of education cut the salaries and
bonuses on the striking hours and administered pennalties for the striking teachers and the uinons
in the form of Documentary Warning, Reduction of Salalies, Suspension from his/her jobs and
all over Japan. They also disallowed any salary increases for them for three months
longer than that of non-striking teachers. And these reduced salaries had influenced their retirement
allowances and pensions. Even though, several years later, these losses were recovered in
whole or in part in some school districts.
 In the U.S. New York state provides for the loss of two day's pay for each day on strike. Like this,
 the penalty is not so severe as Japan's.
4. Court injunctions and Arbitrations
There is not a system where public employers can request a court injunction against teachers who
threaten to strike or initiate a strike in Japan. There is also not official arbitration system. However,
in some special cases, some voluntary arbitrators might intervene in the strikes.
5. Open shop system
As for the forms of teachers unions security, they don't adopt the closed shop or the agency shop
system. They instead adopt the open shop system in Japan. In some school districts almost all
certified teachers are the member of the unions, but in some others, very few.
A Japanese teacher is free to be a member of the teacher union or not by the Law.( Local Public
Employees Law, Article 52-3 ).
6. Other teachers organizations - Non-teachers unions
School principals, administrators, school board members representing school board and teachers
shall not organize a jointed teachers union. (Article 52 ) In Japan, the Nikyoso ( Japan Teacher
Union )
is the biggest teachers union as well as minor unions. Someothers are professional
organizations, for instance, the Nihon Kyoiku-kai ( Japan Education Association ) is not a teachers
union, but a volunteer-based teachers assciation.

It was organized by teachers, educators, school principals, school board members and some others
aiming to improve public education and the interests of public schools voluntarily. So, it is like a
original NEA in the U.S. and a part of "new unionism" of NEA led by the president, Bob Chase.
7. Court decisions on teachers strikes

   These strikes were illegal and the pennalties for the striking teachers by the prefectural boards of
   education were correct. ( Tokyo Higher Court: March 2, 1993. decision,  Fukuoka Higher Court: Nov.20,
   1998. decision and many disrict courts made the same decisions.)

   We doubted if the National Government and Hokkaido Prefectural Government had tried sincerely to fulfill
   their duties based on the Recommendations for the teachers' salaries by the National Personnel Authority
   and the Hokkaido Civil Service Commission. Such severe pennalties for the striking teachers were as
   abuse of rights by the Hokkaido Prefectural Board of Education. ( Sapporo District Court: Feb.26,1999.
   decided, and Oita District Court: January 19,1993.)  

  (Note) They striked to request that they are completely compensated based on the recommendations for
       their salaries, instead the prohibition of their strikes.  
March 1. 2002 described