Labor & Workforce

Famed Tokyo shopping center closes after 1st strike in 61 years

Tokyo, Aug 31 (EFE).- The union of employees of a well-known shopping center in Tokyo began a strike Thursday against the acquisition of the company that owns it by an American firm, the first protest of its kind in the sector in six decades.

Some 900 workers at the Seibu Ikebukuro shopping center did not go to work, so the establishment did not open its doors to the public, according to union representatives.

“Allow the store to close for just one day to ensure the survival of the department store,” union leader Yasuhiro Teraoka told local media, asking shoppers for understanding.

Employees expressed their discontent against the sale of the operator of the establishment, Sogo & Seibu, a subsidiary of the retail group Seven & i Holdings, to the United States fund Fortress Investment Group.

Unions fear that this operation, closed in November of last year and whose execution has been postponed due to previous protests by workers, will result in a reduction of the Seibu Ikebukuro facility in favor of another large Japanese appliance store, Yodobashi Camera, in turn, a member of the US fund.

Workers said they believe these changes could reduce sales and threaten their jobs, despite currently being one of the most profitable Seibu chain shopping centers.

The board of directors of Seven & i Holdings plans to hold an extraordinary meeting Thursday to finalize the transfer.

The previous strike held in Japan by workers in a large shopping center took place in 1962, according to data from the sector organization UA Zensen, and strikes, in general, are becoming less frequent in the country, with only 50 since 2009, according to Japan’s Labor Ministry. EFE


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