News From Japan

Japanese workers celebrate May Day

John Manning writes: In May Day meetings throughout Japan,  Half a million workers called for secure employment and an end to war threats.  

Kobayashi Yoji, president of the National Confederation of Workers, (Zenroren), told a meeting of 80,000 workers in Tokyo's Komeido Central Park that the government had done nothing to solve the economic crisis and called for its removal and new elections.  

In the Tokyo meeting of the more conservative, Japan Trade Union Confederation, (Rengo), estimated at 100,000, president Sesamori Kyoshitold warned the government to listen to the people's concerns on employment security and restrictions on citizen's rights, saying the confederation will demand dismissal pf parliament and new elections if the government fails to listen.

Japanese Communist Party daily Akahata reports on the meetings of Japan's two labor Confederations, in which both formerly rival organizations warned the government on the uncertainty of employment and its threats to civil rights

  The 73rd May Day celebration

About 335,000 workers attended the 73rd May Day celebration at 372 locations throughout the country, calling for an end to the corrupt Koizumi Cabinet.

Kobayashi Yoji, president of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), told a gathering of 80,000 workers in Kameido Central Park in Tokyo that Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has done nothing to solve the economic crisis. Asserting that Koizumi is not qualified to steer Japan, the Zenroren president called for the Koizumi administration to be tossed out of office.

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo denounced Koizumi for having destroyed people's rights and jobs and destroying the Constitution and endangering peace. He called on all workers to stand together to block the wartime bills scheduled to be rammed through the Diet.

As rally participants marched in a demonstration, people along the routes, in the windows of apartments, or on the balconies of buildings, waved their hands in greeting.

A 46-year-old heavy industry worker held a banner of Koizumi in a tuxedo and U.S. President Bush in camouflage gear grabbing people's arms. He said, "I am opposed to any moves to get our children involved in war. The factory I work for makes hydraulic parts for fighter aircraft. If a war breaks out, I'll be forcibly mobilized to arms production."

A carpenter complained that his business went bankrupt because of the bank's reluctance to extend loans under Koizumi's "structural reform," adding that he will no longer support the Koizumi Cabinet.

A march by a mock-armored tank and housewives parodied wartime women's national defense society. Their demonstration attracted attention from passers-by. A 70-year-old carpenter who played a soldier on the tank said, "I made this tank, hoping that Japan would never go back to wartime."

A young worker who took part in the May Day celebration for the first time said, "I'm so surprised to see so many workers here today. Their energy makes me actually realize that I am a worker."

Rengo leader expresses opposition to wartime legislation

The president of Japan's largest national trade union center has warned that the government must not rush to get the contingency legislation enacted in the current Diet session.

Sasamori Kiyoshi, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), made the remark in a speech to a May Day assembly in Tokyo on April 27.

Stressing that the public has deep concerns about the meaning of emergencies (which the legislation is about) and the possible restrictions on citizens' rights, he called on the government to "earnestly listen to public opinion."

Sasamori said that the task now is for "government to seek to achieve economic recovery and stable employment, and compile a supplementary budget for it."

Rengo is expected to publish its view on the contingency legislation.

Sasamori also used his speech to demand that Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's government shift its policy to one of removing public uncertainty about jobs and elderly people's living conditions. "If the Koizumi Cabinet refuses to listen to the people, we will demand that the House of Representatives be dissolved for a general election."

The May Day celebration organizers said that about 100,000 people attended the rally. For the first time, registered non-governmental organizations and non-profit organizations were members of the May Day Organizing Committee.