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“2022 Basic Survey of Trade Unions — Organization Rate Lowest Ever—“


The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare has released the results of its 2022 Basic Survey of Trade Unions. This annual survey, which covers all trade unions in Japan, seeks to clarify the actual trade union situation in the country, such as the number of trade unions and union members and the distribution of union members at the enterprise, industrial, and national levels.

Number of Trade Unions and Union Members

As of June 30, 2022, the number of individual trade unions in Japan was 23,046 and the total number of their members was 9,992,000. Compared to the previous year, the number of individual trade unions decreased by 346 (−1.5%) and their membership decreased by 86,000 (-0.8%).

The estimated organization rate (that is, the ratio of union members to the total number of employed persons) was 16.5%, down 0.4 percentage points from the previous year and the lowest level ever. The number of women union members was 3,471,000, an increase of 2,000, and the estimated organization rate among women (that is, the ratio of women union members to the total number of employed women) was 12.5%, down 0.3 points from the previous year.

Membership of Part-Time Workers

The number of part-time workers belonging to unions was 1,404,000, an increase of 41,000 (3.0%) over the previous year. Part-time workers accounted for 14.1% of all union members, the highest rate ever, and their estimated organization rate was 8.5%.

Membership by Industry

By industry, the manufacturing industry had 2,645,000 members (26.6% of the total), followed by the wholesale and retail industry at 1,534,000 (15.5% of the total) and the construction industry 837,000 (8.4% of the total). Estimated organization rates were 26.2%, 15.8%, and 21.6% respectively.

Membership by Company Size

The number of union members in private companies (enterprise-based unions) was 8,710,000, a decrease of 52,000 (-0.6%) from the previous year; the estimated organization rate was 15.8%. By company size, the total number of union members in companies with 1,000 or more employees was 5,798,000 (66.6% of total union membership); the estimated organization rate in such companies was 39.6%. Companies with 300−999 employees had 1,118,000 union members (12.8% of total union membership), and companies with 100−299 employees had 558,000 union members (6.4% of total union membership). The estimated organization rate in companies with 100−999 employees was 10.5%. Small companies with 99 or fewer employees had 194,000 union members (2.3% of total union membership); the estimated organization rate in such companies was 0.8%.

RENGO’s Response

In response to the release of the survey results, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) General Secretary Hideyuki Shimizu commented that the estimated organization rate has dropped to 16.5% because employee numbers have increased faster than union membership. He argued that we must have a sense of crisis, and oppose the increase in the number of workers who remain unprotected in collective labour relations.
Membership of RENGO has decreased to 6,952,000 members, slightly down by 39,000 from the previous year, and the ratio of RENGO members to total trade union membership was 69.6%, 0.2 points up over the previous year.