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Japanese trade unions are generally considered to be rather weak and their co-operative relationship with employers has been a major factor contributing to Japanese economic success. Paradoxically, Japanese labour law has hitherto been viewed as relatively pro-union and there has thus seemed to be a gap between unions' theoretical powers and their use of these powers. Anthony Woodiwiss traces the development of Japanese labour law from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. He shows how labour law has grown out of prevailing economic and political circumstances and relates the development of labour law to the development of society and of citizenship rights. On this basis he argues that Japanese labour law is not in fact as pro-union as previously thought; and concludes that the prospects for trade unions in Japan continue to deteriorate rather than improve.