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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 April 24 - May 7  > Rallies in celebration of 90th May Day in Japan take place at 294 locations across nation
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2019 April 24 - May 7 TOP3 [LABOR]

Rallies in celebration of 90th May Day in Japan take place at 294 locations across nation

May 2, 2019

On May 1, in celebration of the 90th May Day in Japan, rallies took place at 294 locations throughout the country with an attendance of more than 150,000 participants, mainly workers and union activists, resolving to drive Prime Minister Abe into resignation by means of this summer’s Upper House election, block a change in Article 9 of the Constitution, and stop the planned consumption tax hike to 10%.

At Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, 28,000 workers, mostly affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), and grassroots activists took part in the main May Day rally. After the rally, they marched in demonstration through major shopping districts on three separate courses, appealing to passersby to support the demand for a society without workplace harassment and the cancellation of the planned sales tax increase to 10%.

In the rally, Zenroren President Odagawa Yoshikazu on behalf of the organizing committee delivered the opening speech. He said, “The average of workers’ annual wages dropped by 230,000 yen over the past 30 years, while large corporations saw a five-fold increase in their internal reserves.” Odagawa added, “Now is the time to remember the origins of May Day and strengthen our fight against the continued exploitation of workers by ever more greedy corporations.”

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo in his solidarity speech said that with grassroots struggles developing in various fields, the PM Abe-led government policies have reached an impasse. He stressed, “This provides ever more opportunities for changing Japan’s politics,” and added, “Let us concentrate our unified efforts on putting up joint opposition candidates in all 32 single-seat districts in the July House of Councilors election and replacing the Abe government with a pro-people government.”

The rally received a message of support from the U.S. labor movement in Chicago where the first May Day rally was held.

At the rally venue, delegates from the National Federation of Dockworkers Unions of Japan (Zenkoku-kowan) staging a nine-day strike throughout Japan for an increase in dockworkers’ minimum wages were present. Zenkoku-kowan Tokyo local officer Sato Fumio said, “Our employers seek to abolish the current system to determine dockworkers’ minimum wages. However, our industrial action has attracted public support. So, with firm determination, we’ll go forward to have our goals met.”

Holding placards calling for tackling the issue of excessive working hours in hospitals and for improving working conditions, members of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Iroren) attended the rally. A female member said, “The issue of doctors’ excessively long working hours has become serious. In addition, childcare workers at on-site nurseries in hospitals work around the clock in shifts and are facing the problems associated with long working hours. I’ll do my best for the success of the union’s campaign to achieve an increase in the number of nurses and better working conditions.”

Past related articles:
> Dockworkers stage 48-hour strike [April 16, 2019]
> Labor Ministry panel imposes on doctors monthly overtime cap twice as high as gov’t-set danger line for ‘karoshi’ [March 29 , 2019]
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