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  1. What Kinds of Work Do People Do in Japan?
  2. Where Men and Women Work in Japan
  3. Reviving Basic Industries in Postwar Japan
  4. Japan’s Shipbuilding Industry
  5. Mining: An Industry in Decline
  6. Industrial Policy and Depressed Industries
  7. Consumer Goods Industries
  8. Small Firms in the Japanese Economy
  9. Links Between Large and Small Firms
  10. The Japanese Electronics Industry
  11. Beginning of the Japanese Automobile Industry
  12. The Rise of the Japanese Auto Industry and Auto Exports
  13. The Mobile Telephone Industry
  14. The Computer Game Industry
  15. Shopping Habits and Retail Stores
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Kaede Coal Mine near Yūbari City, Hokkaido.
Photo Courtesy of Futamura Takashi.
Mining: An Industry in Decline
Japan’s mining industry has been in steep decline since the 1960s. In 2000, all types of mining employ only one-tenth the number of people who were employed in the industry in 1950. Coal and metal mining have experienced the worst declines, largely as a result of deliberate government policy. During the 1950s, unionized coal miners at the Miike mine in Kyushu fought hard against the Mitsui Mining Corporation’s efforts to reduce the labor force. They won concessions in 1953, but then lost a hard-fought battle against layoffs in 1960.The government instituted subsidies to protect the domestic coal industry, but as energy production shifted from coal to oil, it was no longer profitable for Japan to produce the limited amount of coal it needed. As part of a national system of industrial policy coordinated by MITI, coal was identified as an industry that should be reduced so that other industries with more potential could be promoted. Under this policy, Japan’s old, deep coal mines in Kyushu and Hokkaido were closed and the industry was phased out during the 1970s and 1980s. Coal mining declined from 121 mines and nearly 69,000 mine workers in 1969 to only fifteen mines and 2,723 mine workers in 2000.
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