Japan strikes first department store workers in 60 years

In Japan, the first strike by employees of the Sogo&Seibu department stores in Tokyo in over 60 years, against the sale of the historic brand to the US investment fund Fortress, and the foreseeable consequent cut in the workforce. About 900 employees represented by a union will abstain from work today in the group’s flagship shopping center located in the central district of Ikebukuro, north of the Japanese capital.


In his statements to reporters, union head Yasuhiro Teraoka – as per tradition in Japan – asked customers and business partners for understanding why they “allowed the store to close for just one day”, to ensure the survival of the department stores . The company has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of locations in recent years, going from 28 outlets across the country in September 2009 to just 10 this year. The group is expected to be sold for just over 200 billion yen (1.24 billion euros) once the board of directors of parent company, Seven & I Holding, finalizes the sales plan over the weekend. The union is concerned that the US fund’s sights will lead to a change in business strategy, prioritizing the presence of technology partner Yodobashi Camera, with the inevitable downsizing of the workforce within department stores. According to industry research firm Ua Zensen, the last strike by a large union representing a ‘depato’, as shopping malls in Japan are nicknamed, dates back to 1962. The planned lockout remains a fairly rare case. in the country: according to data from the Japanese Ministry of Welfare, since 2009 industrial actions lasting more than half a day have not reached an average of 50 per year.