Miike(1):Short History of the Japan Left (5)

Iwao Kitamura ikita at st.rim.or.jp
Tue Sep 5 20:46:51 MDT 1995

Miike struggle was actually mother of the movement I belong to.
I would like to begin from the very beginning.

Miike struggle ---part 1
In the period of economic revival in Japan, the government took
industry policy that targeted the revival of energy and basic
material industry. At the time, domestic coal production was
the key energy industry and full of subsidy from government was put
into the industry. Workforce was provided by ex-soldiers who came
back from abroad.
The labour conditions at coal mines were seriously bad. The dis-
satisfaction of workers stimulated labour movement and enforced
the power of the unions. The coal miners union was called the
strongest union at the time.
Miike coal mine was owned by Mitsui capital, one of 6 Zaibatsu
in Japan. In Miike mine, the management seriously oppressed
the communist party with help by GHQ (General head quater of
occupation army) in the post war period. In other coal mines,
there were sometimes seen workers production controll but such a thing
had never happend in Miike mine.
In 1949, Miike management suddenly fired 1300 workers. It was followed
by 'Red purge' that 197 communist party members were fired in 1950.
Then came a firing of 4650 workers in the same year. Miike union was
the weakest among miners' unions.
In this period, several activists in the union visted prof. Sakisaka
at university of Kyushu.(Miike is located in Kyushu Island) Sakisaka
had come back to the university after the informal confirmation in
Tokyo. The activists asked Sakisaka to do lectures to workers in
Miike. Then started learning group movement in Miike.
( remember this is the same time when JSP split into left and right)
After the enormous firing in 1950, dissatisfaction of workers put up
those activists to the leadership of the union. The first thing they
did was organizing house wives to the union. Miike mine house wives
organization was founded and managed independently by wives of miners.
The second thing was organizing 'Goningumi' (unit of 5 persons) over
the union. This Goningumi became the kernel of resistence struggle at
In July 1953, the Mitsui capital proposed 10,000 personnel reduction
to the union. This time the union was ready to fight. The union striked
113 days. The result was not satisfactory, 2,600 left the mine.
Learning from this lesson, the union enforced daily resistence struggle
at workplace. The manegement labelled activists as production checkers.
In 1959, Mitsui proposed more firing of 6,000 workers again to the union.

to be continued to part 2

Iwao Kitamura
a member of theoritical study group
Socialist Association (Japan)
E-mail : ikita at st.rim.or.jp
personal web: http://www.st.rim.or.jp/~ikita/

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