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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 April 24 - May 7  > May Day rallies aim at wage hike to counter deflationary economy
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2013 April 24 - May 7 [LABOR]

May Day rallies aim at wage hike to counter deflationary economy

April 27 & May 2, 2013
On May 1, May Day rallies took place at 322 locations across Japan, aiming at achieving pay raises in the face of the deflationary economy and blocking the Abe government from rushing to implement a consumption tax hike, participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and revising the Constitution.

In Tokyo, 21,000 workers, mostly affiliated with the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), participated in the 84th Central May Day rally held at Yoyogi Park.

Speaking on behalf of the organizing committee, Zenroren President Daikoku Sakuji criticized the government as intending to create systems enabling employers to arbitrarily dismiss their employees and easily replace full-time workers with non-regular workers. He stressed that to guarantee workers decent wages and stable jobs is necessary to overcome the current deflationary economy.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi delivered a speech in solidarity.

In his speech, Ichida pointed out that print-money-centric “Abenomics” will hardly help take Japan’s economy out of the deflation. To raise workers’ wages is the only way to bring the economy back on track for growth, he added.

Ichida cited that Abe, who persists in efforts to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, receives criticism even from pro-constitutional revision forces against his government’s bill to relax requirements for constitutional revision set under Article 96. Ichida called on the 21,000 people attending to crush Abe’s ambition to revise the Constitution through joint efforts with people in various strata.

The rally received solidarity messages from TPP-opponents, Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu) President Banzai Akira and Japan Housewives Association (Shufuren) President Yamane Kaori.

After the rally, the participants marched in demonstration through Tokyo’s major shopping districts on three separate courses, appealing to passersby to support demands for job security, cancellation of a consumption tax increase, withdrawal from nuclear power generation, and protection of the Constitution.

* * *

It was on May 2 in 1920 when Japanese workers held their first May Day. The event took place on Sunday with about 10,000 workers assembling in Ueno Park in Tokyo.

They rallied for various demands to be met, including the elimination of the Public Security Preservation Law which cracked down on ordinary people’s political activities and the labor movement; preventive measures against the increase in unemployment due to the Depression; enactment of a minimum wage law; establishment of an 8-hour-work days system; a pullout of Japanese troops from Siberia; and realization of a public education system.

It is noteworthy that the workers at that time were opposing the military dispatch to Siberia and calling for peace. For the purpose of overturning the Russian Revolution which occurred in 1917, such great powers as England, the United States, and France embarked on military interventions. In 1920, however, they, one after another, removed their troops from there. Only the Japanese Imperial Army continued the interference in Russia at that time.

For Japanese workers at home, peace was their immediate demand. Until 1935, they braved fierce crackdowns to fight for the May Day rally to continue to be held.

Imperial Japan in 1936 prohibited all events related to May Day after invading China on a full scale.

The war ended in 1945. The next year, the May Day celebration was proudly held in Japan. In the revived May Day, about two million workers throughout Japan participated. In Tokyo alone, half a million gathered and demanded work and food. It became a historic May Day in which many Japanese people felt the true sense of freedom by gathering together to make demands on the government.

Every year since then, May Day rallies have been held in Japan to promote workers’ demands.
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