Short History of the Japan Left (8)

Iwao Kitamura ikita at
Fri Sep 8 20:46:30 MDT 1995

At the heat time of student movement, labour movement faced
a serious problem. Right wing unionists of Sohyo bagan to
campaign to unify Sohyo and Doumei. If they had succeeded,
the new national center of unions would have been dominated
by right wingers and abondon the idea of class struggle.
However, activity of young activists was growing. The youth
sections of Sohyo unions were getting more militant.
In Sohyo, the youth sections became more independent from
the parent leaderships.
In the surge of inflation that began from early '80s, unions
had to fight wage struggle more seriously. Dissatisfaction
of workers about higher living costs forced unions to fight
for wage increase by strikes. Sohyo called "kokumin Shunto"
(people's wage struggle) that was to be a broad based cooperated
struggle for wage increase. That was successfull.
In 72-74, japanese workers acquired big wage increases. This also
helped workers unification to be stronger in Sohyo. Young activists
were encouraged to resist at workplaces. The body of JLSY grew
very rapidly in this situation. JSP was enforced by recruiting
those activists. Composition of SA and its sympathizers in JSP
raised to 40%.
The peak was 1975 when National Railroad Union striked 11 days,
although the union was prohibited striking by Law. The request of
the strike was legalizing strikes of public sector unions. Theachers
union also striked and its chair Makieda was arrested because of
the agitation of striking.
1975 was the year when I joined JLSY.
However such a rapid growth of left in Sohyo and JSP soon caused
serious conflicts with right wingers. For example, in Telecom
industry, young and especially women workers had began to protest
thier occupational diseases. They requested the union leadership
to pick up this problem. However the response of the management
was very quick. They stood pro-management candidates to the union
leaderships over the union. Finally leftists lost most posts.
Left activists didn't give up the struggle, of course. They ignored
the instruction of the union leaders.
Then pro-management leaders of the union claimed JSP that Activists
of Socialist Association intervened the activity of the union.
They split the several locals of JSP such as in Tokyo,in Chiba and in

to be continued...

Iwao Kitamura
a member of theoritical study group
Socialist Association (Japan)
E-mail : ikita at
personal web:

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