Consultation without Representation: How the Conservative Governments in Japan and Korea Capitalized on Labor-Inclusionary Institutions against Labor
Scholars have conventionally debated whether neoliberal globalization has resulted in the breakdown of corporatism or its resilience. Beyond this dichotomy, this paper uncovers ＂consultation without representation＂ as a new path paved by the conservative governments in Japan and South Korea (hereafter, Korea): Japan's Abe Shinzo cabinet and Korea's Park Geun-hye administration attempted to continue utilizing the format of tripartite consultation in the process of neoliberal reforms without allowing organized labor to represent its interests. This paper argues that the consultation-without- representation path originated from the deliberate strategy that conservative governments used to capitalize on labor-inclusionary tripartite institutions against labor. The governments have kept the tripartite institutions, including Japan's shingikai and Korea's Tripartite Commission, intact to avoid a legislative gridlock that an apparent offensive against corporatism may cause and, furthermore, not to compromise their efforts in moving toward a new moral hegemony over industrial society. However, they have made use of these institutions as a way to weaken the corporatist power of organized labor. Specific patterns of consultation without representation differ between Japan and Korea because the conservative governments developed specialized strategies for utilizing the tripartite institutions on the basis of unique political resources for labor movements in each country. In Japan, the Abe cabinet made use of Rengo's orientation toward policy partnership to confine labor unrest to an institutional boundary. Shingikai functioned as a container that prevented the grievances of Rengo from turning into a society-wide dissidence. Meanwhile, Korea's Park government utilized the radical ideology of labor movements to disqualify them as negotiation partners. The Tripartite Commission was used as a blockade to hinder militant labor movements from influencing the policy-making process. This paper examines the processes of the Worker Dispatch Law revisions in Japan and in Korea to corroborate the argument. This analysis indicates that the conservative rulers have found a new utility of corporatism for neoliberal reforms.