History of Doro-Chiba and Japanese Labor Movement

by NAKANO Hiroshi
Ex-President of Doro-Chiba,
National Railways Motive Power Union of Chiba

Chapter 5:

The Significance and Background of the Struggle of the 1047 Dismissed JNR Workers

I. Sixteen-years’ Upheaval that Shook the World and Japan

Sixteen years have passed since the Division and Privatization of the JNR and the situation both in the world and Japan has undergone considerable changes. Let’s sum up the development of the politics and the class struggle in Japan in these years. The Sohyo has disappeared; the Socialist Party ceased to exist; the “1955 System” has fallen down. The Division and Privatization of the JNR in 1987 made a start for the new development. The working class fought back this: the 1047 JNR workers who were unjustly dismissed by the Division and Privatization of the JNR have been persistently struggling to take back their jobs. This is a rough sketch of the sixteen years’ development of the class struggles and the labor movement in Japan.

In this chapter, I will clarify the significance of the sixteen years’ struggle of the national railway workers, focusing on the Doro-Chiba’s struggle. To provide us with the necessary knowledge to understand the whole development, we must at first gain a general picture of what happened in the world and in Japan in these sixteen years.

1. The fall of the Soviet Union and the era of war and depression

It was a stormy period of the historic transformation; in a word, “Sixteen years’ upheaval”. The most important event was undoubtedly the fall of the Soviet Union. As early as 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed and the East-European regimes broke down one after another; In the Tiananmen Square in the People’s Republic of China, a huge demonstration for the democratization erupted and the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on it. Finally in 1991, the Soviet Union completely disintegrated. It was in 1917 that the Russian Revolution took place and the working class seized power for the first time in the world. Some seventy years have passed since then and the Soviet Union collapsed-it was really a world-historical event.

According to my view, the Russian Revolution in 1917 has created a new epoch in the 20th Century. The Soviet Union, however, in its serious development, converted into a Stalinist regime; it became corrupted and degenerated; and at last broke down. Consequently the so-called “Cold-War” system based on the US-Soviet domination disintegrated, leaving the US the only superpower.

Around that time, the multinational forces headed by the US waged, in 1991, the “Gulf War”, an aggressive war against Iraq and the Middle East; in 1994, the political situation aggravated and a war seriously threatened the Korean Peninsula; in 1999, the U.S. and the NATO forces brought on war in Yugoslavia; and in 2001 on September 11 the anti-US guerrilla attack took place. “In response” to it, the U.S. launched a war against Afghanistan; in March 2003, the US and the UK ran into the aggressive war on Iraq.

On the other hand, the world economy has been undergoing an aggravated crisis. In October 1987, the year when the Division and Privatization of the JNR was enforced, “Black Monday”, the stock market crash, broke out in New York. To cope with the situation, the US concentrated money and wealth of the whole world in her hand and called it “economic globalization”. In this way the US economy was propped up and the bubble economy continued for nearly ten years. But now we are witnessing a collapse of the “IT Revolution”. Many people in those days used to say, “Marx is out-dated. Capitalism prevails forever”. Now it has been proved to be far from the fact; the US has fallen into a serious crisis.

During this time, the unemployment has enormously increased all over the world. The 1994 ILO World Report stated: “The current number of the unemployment in the world is 820 million, 30 percent of the whole employment.” Later the OECD made a similar report. Now the unemployed and the partial unemployed, including the people who live on less than a dollar a day, are nearly a half of the world population. “Neo-liberalism”, the underlying theory that promoted the Division and Privatization of the JNR, insists: “Leave everything to the market mechanism, that is, the capitalist principle, and let the jungle law prevail in the whole society!” What they really want to say is: “The strong may survive, and the weak may die”. It is a shamelessly outspoken statement!

The collapse of the Soviet Union on the one hand and the capital’s offensive of a totally new character on the other hand have forced the labor movement a considerable retreat in Japan, the US and the UK. In Japan, the Nakasone administration assaulted on the national railway workers; in the US, Reagan smashed the air controllers’ union; Thatcher in Britain put down the one-year struggle of the coal mine workers.

From the latter half of 1990’s, however, a new rise of the labor movement is beginning against the anti-labor drive, as I have shown you in the example of the new trend of the US labor movement at the beginning of my speech. On the eve of the Iraq war an unprecedented wave of the international antiwar movement with 20 million people all over the world broke out. The whole development in the world and Japan has been an underlying factor that brought about the recent move of the workers’ struggle.

2. Long depression of the Japanese economy and the drive for militarization of the state

In these sixteen years several events of considerable importance took place also in Japan.

The Japanese economy, once reputed to be “the second biggest economic power” of the world, fell into the crisis. In the latter half of 1980s, Japan experienced a rise of the bubble economy. The Reform of Three Public Corporations, with the disintegration of the JNR as its core issue, and the subsequent release of JNR’s land and the NTT’s stock had prompted it. The year’s high 1989 of the Tokyo Stock Exchange marked 38,916 yen. The Finance Ministry, the central and the other banks, the security companies and various financial institutions worked together to promote the bubble economy, raising the stock and land prices. After reaching its peak in 1989, the bubble economy began to collapse. Considering that the recent stock price average is about 8,500 yen, its fall in these years was some 30,000 yen. It meant for the banks, major companies, life insurance companies, etc. about 450 trillion yen’s total asset loss. That constitutes the major cause of the bad loans. For the Japanese economy 1990’s was the decade of a long depression and the bottomless deflation that is called “the lost decade”.

In the meantime, the government continued issuing a large amount of the government bonds as an artificial business-stimulating measure. The government bond balance was 96 trillion yen at the end of 1982 when the drive for the Division and Privatization of the JNR started, and 130 trillion yen in April 1987 when the JNR was actually divided and privatized. At the end of 2001 the government bond balance trebled into 448 trillion yen in sixteen years. The total public debt amounts to 600 trillion or 700 trillion yen when the debt of the local governments is added. It is anticipated to reach 1000 trillion yen soon.

The unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in 1987 and said to be “record worst” at that moment, but now it is 5.6 percent; it went up more than two points in last sixteen years.

When we look upon the development of the Japanese relation with the US, especially in regard to the US war policy, in these sixteen years, Japan has broken through the postwar restrictions in its security and defense policies and has undergone a rapid change into a war state. Though the Nakasone administration (1982-1987) enforced the Division and Privatization of the JNR and carried out the Japanese militarization in various fields, proclaiming the “Final Settlement of Japan’s Postwar Politics”, it dared not scrap the previous policy of the “exclusively-defensive defense” or “no sending troops abroad”. The fall of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War, however, formed a decisive turning point in Japan’s politics: in 1992 the Self Defense Forces were sent abroad for the first time as the PKO units under the guise of the “international contribution”; in 1994 the critical development in the Korean Peninsula put a grave pressure upon Japan’s politics; in 1996 the US-Japanese Security Treaty was re-defined, that is, changed the interpretation to meet the actual emergency; in 1997 the New Guidelines for the Defense Cooperation between Japan and the US were formulated; in 1999 the “Law on a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan” passed the Diet; in 2003 the three Emergency Laws were legislated. At the same time, under the intensified situation after the September 11, 2001, the government enforced the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law in October 2001 and the New Legislation on Iraq in July 2003. Thus the dispatch of the SDF abroad and Japan’s militarization has become more and more imminent issues. We are witnessing that these sixteen years have brought us an era of war, depression and mass unemployment also in Japan as in other countries of the world.

3. The disintegration of the Sohyo as well as the Socialist Party and the fall of “the 1955 System”

The most serious problem for us in these sixteen years was that the labor movement in Japan has failed to confront the violent attempt of the ruling class to destroy workers’ lives and peace and the workers’ class struggles have been forced to retreat.

The major change in Japan’s politics in these periods was the fall of the 1955 System. In 1993 a split of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the ruling party, took place; and the LDP single-party government fell down; the Hosokawa government took over the administration in place of the LDP. This revealed that the LDP finally lost power to maintain the government by its party alone. It was the end of the long continued LDP’s one-party rule since 1955, in other words: “The 1955 System has fallen down.” The Socialist Party that had constituted an integral part of “the 1955 System” as a major opposition party to the LDP joined the Hosokawa government. It meant, however, a beginning of the end of the life of the Socialist Party. In 1994, after the collapse of the Hosokawa administration, the SP remained in power in a LDP-SP coalition government and Murayama, the then president of the SP, took office as Prime Minister. During the period of the governmental party, the SP approved the Single-Seat District System and completely abandoned party’s previous stand on the security and defense policies. As a result of this conversion, the Socialist Party split into three minor parties-the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Democratic Party and the New Socialist Party in 1996. Thus the Socialist Party disappeared as a significant political force.

The Liberal Democratic Party, a major pillar of the 1955 System, after leaving the government in 1993’s turmoil, came back to the power after only one year through trapping the SP into the LDP-SP coalition. Therefore, the fall of the 1955 System meant in fact a disintegration of the postwar Conservative-Progressive confrontation structure of Japan’s politics, resulting in one-sided defeat of the major opposition, the Socialist Party. It corresponded to the collapse of the Cold War Structure that meant in essence the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the survival of the USA as a sole super power.

The basic factor of the structural change of Japan’s politics was no doubt the breakup of the Sohyo and the setting up of the Rengo (and the Zenroren) in 1989 as a new labor national federation in place of the Sohyo. The disintegration of the SP in the middle of 1990’s was certainly an inevitable outcome of these developments. A move of so-called Unification of the Labor Organizations in right wing direction that led to the breakup of the Sohyo can be dated as far back as 1960s. Its ultimate aim was to destroy the national railway workers struggle (a symbol of the militancy of the Sohyo) by means of the Division and Privatization of the JNR.

In the next section, we shall look into the historical significance of the breakup of the Sohyo and the setting-up of the Rengo in the class struggle.

II. The Historical Significance of the Breakup of the Sohyo and the Setting-up of the Rengo

1. Rightwing unification of the labor movement initiated by the unions of private enterprises

When the JR companies started on April 1, 1987, the Kokuro’s membership was about 44,000, including about 7,600 workers who were transferred to the JNR Settlement Corporation. The Doro-Chiba had about 800 members then. The Doro, Zenshiro, Tetsuro and other unions have dissolved themselves into the Tetsudo-Roren, a single labor federation of the newly born JR and later JR-Soren. Thus those major promoting unions of the Division and Privatization of the JNR, now unified in a union, have formed the mainstream faction in the national railway workers’ movement that used to be a driving force of the postwar labor movement in former days.

This led to the breakup of the Sohyo November 1989. The Rengo replaced the Sohyo that had played a central role in the postwar labor movement in Japan. The unions under the political influence of the Communist Party formed the Zenroren, a separate labor national federation. Thus the right-wing unions were gaining upper hand, while the former left-wing unions within the Sohyo, represented by the unions of the public service, stepped back.

Since then no single red flag has been hoisted even in the annual spring labor offensive. The prevailing forces in the current Japanese labor movement are led by the company unions that obediently meet capital’s demand and force their membership to accept it. One of the various reasons was evidently that the Division and Privatization of the JNR has crushed the major unions which occupied a pivotal position in Japanese labor movement.

The Rengo was born as unification of the four different national federations of Japanese postwar labor movement: Sohyo, Domei, Churitu-Roren and Shin-Sanbetsu (see the Table 2). The move for a unification of national labor federations began as early as 1960’s under the auspices of the 1964-founded International Metal Workers Federation, Japan Council (IMF-JC) comprising the “big unions of big business”, namely the major private enterprises of steel, electric machines, automobile industries, etc. that were the driving forces of the high growth of Japan’s economy. The unions of the Domei headed by the Zensen-Domei (Textile Workers’ Union) joined it. This right-wing drive for the labor movement unification aimed essentially and consistently to break up the class-oriented labor movement embodied by the Sohyo and to take over the unions under the Sohyo’s influence.

The Sohyo leadership and the officials of its affiliated unions especially of the public services realized the impending danger. In face of this threat, the unions of the public service, especially of the national railway turned more militant, while the unions of the private enterprises became more and more right wing and pro-company. The victory in the struggle of the national railway workers against the Productivity Movement in the beginning of 1970’s forced a temporary retreat to the drive for right wing unification of the labor movement.

The defeat of the strike for the right to strike in 1975, the last blossom of the Sohyo’s labor movement, set the right wing drive in full motion. The Zenmin-Roren (United Private Enterprise Workers Federation) was established as a unified body of the unions of the private enterprises in November 1987: the Zenkin (All-Japan Metal Workers’ Union) that had been resisting to the right wing unification among the unions of the private enterprises was finally drawn in, followed by the Shitetsu-Soren (General Federation of Private Railway Workers’ Union) in 1980’s. Thus the unification of the unions comprising the private sectors alone was achieved in November 1987 just two years before the setting-up of the Rengo.

2. Strategic significance of the survival of the national railway workers’ movement

In 1989, the Rengo was finally set up through absorbing the unions in the public services. Though it boasted to be a “comprehensive unification” of labor unions, those unions that maintained a proclaimed stand of the class-oriented labor movement, such as the JCP-led unions and the unions under the influence of the new left wing organizations , were completely excluded: it was in fact a policy of the “discriminative choice”(screening), as you might well recognize in the above stated development.

During the unification process, the Zentei (Postal Workers’ Union) and the Zendentsu (Telecommunication Workers’ Union, now NTT Union) played an active role in promoting the right wing trend, rapidly changing their previous position in 1970’s. The Jichiro (Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Union) and the Nikkyoso (Japan Teachers’ Union) also joined the Rengo. Their watchwords were: “Don’t miss the bus” “Be careful not to follow the example of the Kokuro”. The JCP-led local unions that had been affiliated to these two national organizations broke off, setting up split organizations: the Jichi-Roren (Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions) and the Zenkyo (All-Japan Federation of Teachers’ and Staffs’ Unions) respectively.

The major issue was evidently the national railway workers’ movement headed by the Kokuro (National Railway Workers’ Union). The state power and the capital were determined to destroy the national railway workers’ movement by violence. Their policy was to disintegrate the Kokuro and to bring together its membership into a totally new organization, the JR-Soren (Japan Confederation of Railway Workers’ Unions) that is in fact a fascist union dominated by the Kakumaru, an affiliated union of the Rengo. For that purpose, the state power and the management made use of a betrayer, the Kakumaru of the Doro as a tool of the violent destruction of the Kokuro. It is highly provable that this policy intimidated the Jichiro and the Nikkyoso to give in to the right wing unification under the Rengo.

The two major practices of the state power’s labor policy, namely the right wing unification of the labor movement by the setting-up of the Rengo and the drive for the destruction of the national railway workers’ movement designed by the Second Ad Hoc Commission for Administrative Reform - these two moves were closely interrelated and carried out together. In other words, without the achievement of the latter, the accomplishment of the former would have been impossible. For the Rengo, the disintegration of the national railway workers’ union was not a problem concerning a single industrial union but a far more important issue for the completion of its original aim of the labor movement unification..

Actually, however, the enemy forces did not succeed in destroying either the Kokuro or the Doro-Chiba at the time of the Rengo’s setting-up. Shortly after the Rengo came into existence, the national railway workers began their fresh struggle of the 1047 workers dismissed from the JR Settlement Corporation as continuation of the struggle against the Division and Privatization of the JNR. This struggle has been going on till today. I remember saying in those days, “The Rengo without the Kokuro is like coffee without milk.”(“A dish without spice”). I meant by that the national railway workers’ struggle is a barb sticking deeply in the Rengo’s throat.

3. The Rengo Has Crossed the Rubicon

The Rengo’s first President was YAMAGISHI Akira from the Zendentsu. YAMAGISHI, an engaged political labor leader, fully devoted himself to plot the political realignment in 1990’s before and after the fall of the “1955 System”. This process has revealed the class nature of the Rengo. While in the former times the Sohyo and the Domei politically supported the parties based on the working class, namely the Socialist Party and the Democratic Socialist Party respectively, the newly born Rengo chooses the bourgeois parties as political spokesperson and doesn’t mind their class character at all.

The labor union always needs a political party that represents its interest. What party currently in power is and how significant its party really is in the parliament - these are undoubtedly important issues. Former Sohyo’s official position in election was to support exclusively the candidates of the Socialist Party, while the unions under the influence of the Communist Party insisted on freedom to support parties, to collect vote for the candidates of the JCP against the SP candidates. It had become a political ritual at every election to debate over the matter in union’s meetings. Meanwhile in January 1967, an article by Takaragi, the then President of the Zentei (Postal Workers’ Union) on the “Monthly Labor Issues’ proposed a political alternative to the existing Liberal Democratic Administration for 1970’s: a coalition government of the Socialist Party and the Democratic Socialist Party coupled with the unification of the national labor federations, the Sohyo and the Domei. He excluded the JCP from his option.

As you see, the drive for the united right wing labor movement was of essentially very political character from the outset. While the high economic growth came to an end in 1970’s and the workers demands were no more easily met, a new policy of the labor union was adopted: “struggle to demand the change of the system and the policy”. The unification drive went on hand in hand with this new development. This new policy replaces the struggle in the workshop and the strike as means of pressing workers’ demands with the negotiations through the “labor participation in the management and in the administration”. This policy had originally been introduced by the JCP and was later taken up by the Sohyo in the “Spring Offensive of the Nation” in 1974. Since then the “struggle to demand the change of the system and the policy” has been employed in combination with the drive for the right wing labor movement. It was often proposed: “Let us fight for an alternate government to the LDP administration through transforming the SP, the “permanent opposition party”, into a governmental party and excluding the JCP “. The Sohyo executive could not reject this right wing policy.

When the Rengo was set up in 1989, its main slogans were: “For an alternate government to the LDP administration” and “establishing a two-party system”. You should notice that “non-LDP” meant no more the “Socialist-KOMEI-Democratic” coalition as previously implied.

In those periods, there were significant changes in Japan’s political picture: the Socialist Party led by DOI won a great victory in the upper house election in 1989, taking advantage of the issue of the consumers’ tax and the “Recruit Corporation’s scandal”; OZAWA, the then Secretary General of the LDP launched a campaign for the “Political Reform”, resulting in the split of the Takeshita-ha, the largest faction within the LDP and the founding of the SHINSEI Party (Japan Renewal Party) with Ozawa at its head in 1991. It triggered a “new-party boom” and a severe defeat of the LDP at the 1993 General Election and fall of the “1955 System” (the birth of a non-LDP six party coalition government). (See the Table 1). The President of the Rengo, Yamagishi, was actively engaged in the whole process of the “Political Reform” advocated by Ozawa, in disintegrating the SP and openly supporting the Ozawa’s party. The Rengo has thus crossed the Rubicon.

4. The Rengo’s crisis: organizational hollowing emerged and intensified

Yamagishi’s policy soon went bankrupt in a most brutal way owing to the rapid and turbulent changes of the political party structure that ensued. The SHINSEI Party, Ozawa’s party, became the Shinshin Party (New Frontier Party) as a result of merger with other three parties, namely the KOMEI Party, the NIHON Party (Japan New Party) and the Shinto-Sakigake (New Party of Harbinger). In the meantime, the Liberal Democratic Party, the former ruling party, staged the fantastic drama of reversal: it joined hands with the Socialist Party and succeeded in returning to power by forming the LDP-SP coalition government with the Socialist Prime Minister MURAYAMA in 1994,as was stated above. The New Frontier Party completely dissolved the instant it fell from power, for it was after all a bourgeois party founded with a motivation to cope with LDP over the concession. In the course of those political developments, the Rengo lost its stable political representation, which brought Rengo’s role and position in question. People began to wonder what the Rengo under the leadership of Yamagishi really was.

Just at that time in 1995, the Nikkeiren published the Project Report titled “Japanese-style Management” in the New Era. It presented a sweeping policy of the Japanese bourgeoisie: the abolition of the lifetime employment and the seniority wage system that had guaranteed very existence of the enterprise unions and their national federation, the Rengo. Consequently they were directly hit by the new policy of bourgeoisie. Actually the Rengo has since been losing its organizational control and authority over the union membership and has so far weakened as to be comprehended by the Nippon-Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) which remarks: “In the present state, the Rengo does not effectively function either as a company union or as the Industrial Patriots”.

The Rengo originally lacks ordinary unionism that even the Domei, its right wing predecessor, maintained. Though the Domei was under the influence of the right wing social democrats, its affiliated unions, such as the Zensen-Domei (Textile Workers’ Union), had a stand of the labor-capital confrontation. In the pre-war time, the Sodomei (General Confederation of Trade Unions), their former national federation, insisted on the “Opposition against Three Enemies”, namely Capitalism, Communism and Fascism. After World War II, in order to compete with the left wing Sohyo, the Domei put much emphasis upon anti-communism. Nevertheless it kept a stand to fight against the management when capital’s attack was too much severe. Those unions that faithfully follow the pre-war tradition of the Sodomei, such as the Zensen-Domei and the Seamen’s Union, still hold this stand. When we look at the present situation of the Rengo, we find that its central affiliated unions such as the unions of automobiles, electric machines, etc. industries, the former members of the International Metal Federation, Japan Council (IMF-JC), are actually playing a role of the labor relations department of the capital. Their stance is even more anti-labor than the labor-capital collaborationists.

What did the Rengo bring about to the labor organizations in communities? As the Rengo came into existence, the District Labor Councils of the Sohyo’s era were replaced by the Regional Labor Federations, which in practice completely dissolved the labor organizations in the communities. There are neither workshop struggle nor education of union members. Consequently no union activists are built up to organize labor activities in the communities. In the days of the Sohyo, union activities in workplace were connected with activities in the communities. For example, Mr. AKAGIRI Misao from the Zentei ran for the Diet with his background as a regional officer of the Chiba Prefectural Labor Federation. It could not happen in the Rengo.

The Rengo had 8 million members at its start and boasted to reach 10 million soon. On the contrary, its membership is rapidly decreasing and now sank below 7 million. But the main problem lies not here. The worst thing is that the union headquarters is losing its control over the union organizations. It was revealed in the last election of the House of Councilors (2000): the votes cast to the union-based candidates amounted only to 1.7 million nationwide! The Rengo’s organization proved to be collapsing from within. Coming election of the Rengo’s president will be the first one to divide the union on candidacy in the midst of the Rengo’s crisis of disintegration.

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, it will push the Rengo in a more reactionary direction. In the first half of 1990s, the Rengo failed to form its security and defense policy because of divided opinions among the affiliated unions. In May 2002, however, the Rengo made a statement in support of the Emergency Legislation and issued a chauvinist declaration against the North Korea (People’s Democratic Republic of Korea) in March 2003. Now the Rengo is obviously playing a role of a tool of the state power and the capital in promoting the anti-labor revision of the labor legislation.

5. Struggle of the national railway workers as a militant counterforce to the Rengo

The that was set up by the unions under the influence of the Communist Party as a rivaling national labor federation to the Rengo completely failed to be a militant counterforce to the Rengo. The Communist Party has fundamentally no serious idea of developing the labor movement policy. Probably in order to win the national and municipal elections, the JCP decided to set up a separate national labor federation apart from the Rengo. Not the Zenroren but the national railway workers struggle embodied in the Kokuro and the Zenrokyo (National Trade Union Council), which serves as a rallying center for the unions not willing or unable to join the Rengo, have formed a genuine militant counterforce to the Rengo.

The Rengo and the Zenroren share a common indifferent stand to the rank and file workers. They never think of winning workers’ demand through organizing mass action in the workshop as well as community or developing it into powerful struggle. Where is their attention directed? Their attention is primarily focused on establishing comfortable relationships with the management and the administration. What concerns them most is to get some modest gain through the negotiation, and by means of this gain to keep control over the union members. For the Rengo, therefore, the ruling parties are more reliable than the opposition parties. It was quite natural that the Rengo preferred the LDP to the New Frontier Party.

While the labor movement in general has turned right and become powerless, the national railway workers’ movement has made an exception as an outsider. Among the national railway workers’ movement, it was in fact the Doro-Chiba alone that consistently and vigorously fought back with full mobilization of the rank and file workers in the workshop against the state power, which enforced the Division and Privatization of the JNR. After the Division and Privatization was carried out, the Doro-Chiba has been fighting also against the JN management, successor of the JNR. The Kokuro passed a resolution to refuse surrender to the Division and Privatization of the JNR in the 1986 its National Convention in Shuzenji. It was of course an absolutely important decision that enabled the Kokuro to survive till today. However, the Kokuro has since completely abandoned to seriously organize the national railway workers’ struggle on the workshop.

Anyway, the Kokuro, the most powerful industrial union of the former Sohyo’s labor movement, has maintained its organization for 14 years without joining the Rengo that replaced the Sohyo is above all owing to the tenacious struggle of the dismissed national railway workers demanding the withdrawal of the discriminative dismissal and the return to the original jobs in the original workplaces. In April 1987, when the new JR companies started business, some 7000 JNR workers were not employed in the JR companies; in April 1990, 1047 workers were dismissed from the JNR Settlement Corporation to which they had been transferred since 1987. Those discriminatively dismissed national railway workers have since been fighting persistently against this unjust measure. The Kokuro officials, however, have taken no leadership. Only thing they did was to bring the matter to the Labor Relations Commissions. What they really wanted from the outset was to end the national railway workers’ struggle as soon as possible. They never concealed their intention. But the dismissed workers’ fighting teams, such as the Kokuro-Tosodan, that of the Doro-Chiba and of the Zendoro overturned the intention of the Kokuro’s leadership. The dismissed workers’ courageous struggle has gathered sympathy and support not only among the union members of the Kokuro but also among a lot of workers in other industries who are suffering under the Rengo’s bureaucratic control. From the inside and outside of the Rengo, workers began to raise their voices: “Why should we abandon our fellow workers?” Against this background, the struggle of the 1047 dismissed national railway workers’ struggle has developed into the greatest and longest struggle for 16 sixteen years in the history of Japan’s labor movement against the state power that enforced the Division and Privatization of the JNR. Thus the national railway workers’ struggle has distinctly constituted a militant counterforce to the Rengo.

III. Sixteen Years of the 1047 Dismissed Workers’ Struggle

The sixteen years’ struggle was filled with extraordinary dynamics of offensive and counter-offensive. The period from April 1987, when the JR was dissolved and the JR began business, up till today, has three major turning points:

The first was April 1, 1990: the 1047 former JNR workers who had been discriminatively transferred to the JR Settlement Corporation at the start of the JR were dismissed from the JRSC. They instantly began fighting against the fresh dismissal. It was a development that the state power, the JR companies and the JR-Soren had not at all anticipated.

The second was December 24, 1994: KAMEI Shizuka, the then Minister of Transport of the Murayama Government (a coalition administration of the LDP, SP and others), withdrew the action for the 20.2-billion-yen damages against the Kokuro; the state power changed its Kokuro policy from the forcible disintegration to the integration into the system.

The third was May 28, 1998: the Tokyo District Court overturned the orders of the Labor Relations Commissions on the 1047 dismissed workers’ issue. It was an ultra-reactionary judgment demonstrating that the state power returned to its previous policy of the forcible disintegration of the Kokuro. This policy was practiced till the conclusion of the Four-Party Agreement on May 30, 2000.

1. Three years of the JNR Settlement Corporation

The JR discriminatively excluded 7,628 JNR workers in re-employment at the start of business because of the union affiliation of each worker. The greater part of the excluded workers was the Kokuro’s unionists of Hokkaido and Kyushu area. Instead of being employed in the JR, new companies, they were forcibly transferred to the several regional branches of the JNR Settlement Corporation’s employment department. The management promised them to offer a new job within three years. What the management really did to those workers was, however, to let them sit idly in the unlit rooms every day and to recommend them poorly-paid jobs with bad working conditions only in excuse. Consequently they were obliged to find jobs by themselves and many of them left. The state power and the JR management originally figured that three years would be enough for all those workers to be bored with the life in the Settlement Corporation and to drop off. They expected that the crucial problem of the redundancy would be solved thus automatically without resorting to dismissal and that they might finally bring an end to the issues raised by the Division and Privatization of the JNR.

In fact a lot of workers were forced to find job outside the JR by pressing economic necessity or to accept the long-way transfer, for example from Hokkaido and Kyushu to Honshu, the mainland of Japan. Nevertheless several thousands workers unflinchingly stayed in the Settlement Corporation until the expiration of the three years’ time, March 1990, demanding persistently the “withdrawal of the unfair dismissal and the return to the original jobs in the original workplaces”. It was supported by the successive favorable orders of the Labor Relations Commissions on the issue: Since 1988, the Local Labor Relations Commissions in several prefectures have issued orders to justify the Kokuro’s demands one after another. It was apparently the victory of the struggle, in which the Kokuro had been exceptionally engaged as an organization.

The JR management never attended the meetings of the Labor Relations Commissions. The Kokuro insisted that the discriminative employment of the JR companies was unfair labor practices and demanded the withdrawal of the dismissal and the return to the original jobs in the original workplaces, but the JR management arrogantly rebuffed this: “Even if unfair labor practices took place, the JR companies have no responsibility for that because the JNR and the JR are totally different corporations” and stayed away from the discussions in the Labor Relations Commissions. Consequently, the meetings of the Labor Relations Commissions heard only the Kokuro’s statement and judged it perfectly right without any opposition. It certainly encouraged the workers transferred to the JNR Settlement Corporation.

The intention of the Kokuro’s leadership was to have every worker of the Settlement Corporation reemployed until March 1990. Since 1988, the Kakudo and the Kyokai-HA, the dominant political factions within the Kokuro’s leadership, have tried to persuade the activists under their influence to accept the far-way transfer from Kokkaido and Kyushu to Honshu. They intentionally stirred up a sense of crisis among the unionists and threatened them: “If the things remain as they are now, that is, thousands of workers still stay in the Settlement Corporation, the JR management would resort to a final dismissal”. In spite of the dubious suggestion of the Kokuro’s leadership, a large number of workers remained in the Settlement Corporation, for they could not leave their resident area because of their family problems.

In the meantime, the Kokuro’s leadership made a proposition to demand the “general package solution” in the Extraordinary Convention in June 1989. It has laid a foundation of today’s conciliation policy. They did not want to make use of the advantageous circumstances created by the complete victories in the Labor Relations Commissions and terminate the controversy over the unfair labor practices committed by the state power. On the contrary, they followed the policy of the “settling a variety of issues as a package deal” in the Central Labor Relations Commissions - such issues, as ranging from the discriminative employment to the case of 20.2 billion yen damages for the losses allegedly caused by the strike for the right to strike.

As April 1990, a date of the expiration of the three years’ existence of the JNR Settlement Corporation, approached, a fresh attempt was launched by the Socialist Party represented by Tanabe, the Secretary General, the LDP as well as the Minister of Labor and the Minister of Transport. They proposed the JR management and the Kokuro to reinstate the dismissed workers in the JR companies and then make them retire on the same day. It is exactly of the same character as the “Fujibayashi Arbitration” in the time of the Mitsui-Miike Coalminers’ Struggle in 1960. A JR East cadre remarked, “The Kokuro will accept it, I guess”.

The 84 hours’ strike of the Doro-Chiba started in an advanced date in March 1990 completely blew off the conciliation bargaining. As a result, 1047 workers were dismissed by the JNR Settlement Corporation on April 1 and the 1047 dismissed workers stood up for a long-time struggle.

2. The National Railway Workers’ Struggle started anew and the JR-Soren drastically disrupted

The newly born system created by the setting-up of the JR companies as a product of the Division and Privatization of the JR was shaken to the bottom by the struggle of the 1047 workers who survived even after being fired on “the April 1”. The JR-Soren among others reacted most violently: it held a General Mobilization Rally in the Hibiya Open-air Music Hall, demanding the dismissal of the workers. The rally carried slogans: “No political intervention!” “No concession to the unreasonable demand (of the dismissed JNR workers). They were directed against the repeated attempts of the LDP and the SP to settle the issue through enforcing the long-way transfer of thousands of dismissed national railway workers. Matsuzaki, head of the JR-Soren, went so far as to declare: “If the dismissed workers of the Settlement Corporation should be reinstated, we are ready to wage a strike,”

This triggered a move to split within the JR-Soren: at the beginning of the next year 1991 the President of the JR West Union declared to break with the JR-Soren and was followed by the JR unions of Tokai, Kyushu and Shikoku. Finally in May 1992 the JR-Rengo (Japan Railway Trade Unions Confederation) was set up comprising ex-JR-Soren members of the unions in the west Japan. Thus the JR labor organizations were divided into three: the JR-Soren still maintaining its influence over the East-Japan, Hokkaido and the freight branch; the JR-Rengo with the unions of the western JR companies and the Kokuro with the 1047 dismissed and fighting workers.

The ultimate aim of the Division and Privatization of the JR was to destroy the national railway workers’ struggle rallied around the Kokuro. It was the JR-Soren led by the former Kakumaru of Doro with its close connection with the LDP that was initially supposed to totally replace the Kokuro. The state power, the LDP and the JR capital all had expected “one union in one company” under the monopolizing control by the JR-Soren. But the refusal resolution in the Shuzenji Convention of the Kokuro (1986) and the new development of the 1047 dismissed workers’ struggle this time have forced the splits of the JR-Soren and consequently the reviewing of the labor policy in the JR companies.

3. The 20.2 billion yen damages issue and attempt to convert the Kokuro

The second turning point came in December 1994, when Kamei, the then Transport Minister withdrew the action for the 20.2-billion-yen damages against the Kokuro.

From the beginning of 1990’s the controversy over the 1047 dismissed workers had been brought to the Central Labor Relations Commission. The Kokuro should have necessarily requested the Central Labor Relations Commission to issue a definite order to admit Kokuro’s victory as soon as possible. On the contrary, what the Kokuro’s National Executive sought was reconciliation with the management following its line of “general package solution” in the CLRC. The CLRC, after delaying the settlement for months, finally issued an order in December 1993: the order concerning discriminative employment in Hokkaido and Osaka admitted JR’s responsibilities for that and thus rejected the claimed of the JR that it had nothing to do with the discriminative employment issue because the JR and the former JNR are totally different corporations. Nevertheless the CLRC’s order recognized only a part of the unjust dismissal as unfair labor practices, namely a part of the case in Hokkaido and not at all the case of Osaka, and leaving actual and concrete settlement to the “sound judgment” of the JR. After that the Kokuro switched to the line of political reconciliation that led to the turning point of December 1994.

What was then the 20.2 billion yen damages issue? It was an action filed by the state power and the JR management as revenge to the strike for the right to strike of the Kokuro and the Doro in 1975. In June 1986, however, the action against the Doro was withdrawn because the Doro accepted the Division and Privatization of the JNR. It was apparently an award to the Doro. As a result the whole amount of damages was put upon the Kokuro alone. The trial on this issue continued for a long period and was scheduled to end by the spring 1995. As the time limit closed near, it was openly reputed: “The Kokuro would almost certainly lose the case and it would be obliged to pay damages of 40 billion yen including twenty-year interest. When it should really happen, then the whole property of the Kokuro would certainly be seized, including the Kokuro Hall, the union headquarters’ building”. It would be crucial for the Kokuro.

It was just at this moment that Kamei took decisive measure in regard to the damages issue. His intention was clear enough: to integrate the Kokuro into the system instead of forcibly disintegrating it. Concretely he intended to bring about a final settlement of 1047 dismissed worker’s issue on a certain acceptable condition in exchange for the damages problem. Actually it was seriously rumored that several hundred workers would probably be re-employed in the JR companies.

The JR-Soren, who had just suffered a fatal disruption into the East and the West, behaved shamefully to overcome organizational crisis, exposing its inherent Fascist character of the Kakumaru. As a result the JR-Soren was not only abandoned by the JR capital of west Japan but also recognized as inadmissible existence by the state power. Anyway the state power changed its labor policy in regard to the JR: it gave up making use of the JR-Soren/Kakumaru as tool to crushing the national railway workers’ struggle; instead it decides to promote degeneration of the Kokuro from within. The withdrawal of the 20.2 billion yen damages issue made thus the turning point.

4. The JR companies refused reconciliation

The JR-Soren naturally rejected the new policy of the state power in a most violent way: it fabricated a story of “Kokuro’s secret bribery to Kamei” and labeled the Kokuro “Kamei’s union” etc. Its desperate effort to beguile union members through demagogy, however, failed and produced instead uneasiness and repulsion in the union, especially among nonpartisan unionists of the JR East Union, the largest affiliation of the JR-Soren. As late as the end of 1995 a new split occurred within the JR East Union in Niigata by ex-members of the Tetsuro. It was followed by a revelation that the very President of the JR East Union was one of the anti-Matsuzaki, anti-Kakumaru plotters. The Kakumaru even resorted to railroad obstruction and called it “conspiracy by the state power”. Thus the JR-Soren/Kakumaru dug its own grave.

The major obstacle of Kamei’s attempt was not Kakumaru’s desperate activities. Governmental plan to settle 1047 dismissed workers’ issue through the withdrawal of the damages met repulsion of the JR companies. In negotiations with Kamei, the presidents of the JR companies indifferent of east or west refused his proposition, including re-employment of only a small number of dismissed employees. According to a rumor, Kamei, furious at the refusal, asked Matsuda, the then President of the JR East, if he belonged to the Kakumaru and upon his negative answer told him that he, Kamei regards everybody that gets along with Kakumaru to be Kakumaru himself. Anyway, the speculation that state power could settle the 1047 worker issue through converting Kokuro (at the same time abandoning the JR-Soren) failed thus because of the JR capital’s rejection.

Meanwhile the Kokuro’s officials made retreat after retreat “not to miss the chance”. On August 30, 1996 the Kokuro executive finally declared its official acceptance of the Division and the Privatization of the JR in its proposal to the JR companies: “We recognize the present development brought forth upon the foundation that was laid by the JNR Reform Law” (we call it the “August 30 line” of conversion). It was an apparent change of the Kokuro’s policy and a positive answer to Kamei’s withdrawal of the damages. In May 1997, the Tokyo District Court concluded the trial on the issue of the discriminative employment of the JR that had been discussed since the order of the CLRL. It gave out a recommendation of reconciliation to all concerned, namely the JR, the Kokuro, the CLRC and the JNR Settlement Corporation. This recommendation was rejected by the JR companies. Thus the plan of political settlement was finally blocked.

5. The reactionary judgments of the Tokyo District Court on May 28, 1998

The judgments on May 28, 1998 of the Tokyo District Court on the discriminative employment of the JR were reactionary attempts of the state power to break the stalemate of the JNR/JR conflict. Two departments of the Tokyo District Court delivered separate judgments, both of which were of ultra-reactionary character to overturn all previous orders issued by Local Labor Relations Committees, even though with a slight difference. One of the judgment totally denied the responsibility of the JR companies as parties concerned. It openly contradicted the official stance of the Courts that regarded the JR as parties concerned in their preliminary proposition of reconciliation. The judgments of the Tokyo District Court put the JNR Reform Law above Article 28 of the Constitution of Japan that guarantees the three essential labor rights.

The judgments have given a fatal blow to those people who had entertained a groundless expectation for favorable court decisions, namely the Kokuro leadership, their counsels, the Kyokai-ha and the Kakudo. The Kokuro officials, instead of angrily fighting back against the reactionary judgments, went on total surrender following the “August 30 line”. In the Kokuro convention in August 1998 the Secretary General Miyasaka suddenly put forward “Five Points Additional Proposition” that included following points: recognition of the JNR Reform Law, withdrawal of the case of unfair labor practices, reviewing of the name and the organizational structure of the Kokuro, etc. Though the Kokuro executive did not succeed to adopt the proposition then, they enforced recognition of the JNR Reform Law in the next opportunity, in an extraordinary convention in March 1999.

Finally on May 30, 2000 the “Four Party Agreement” came on stage. It was an agreement reached at by four political parties, namely three ruling parties (LDP, the KOMEITO and the Conservative Party) and the oppositional Social Democratic Party. The essential point of the agreement was: to demand the Kokuro to admit that the JR companies have no responsibility to the JNR’s discriminative employment and to recognize it in the union’s convention, in other words, overall acceptance of the judgments of the Tokyo District Court on May 28, 1998. Kokuro’s Extraordinary Convention held immediately after this on July 1, 2000, however, did not approve the “Four Party Agreement”; the Tosodan with their families got angry at the proposal of the union leadership and occupied the platform of the convention hall, preventing the adoption. The Kokuro’s leadership made repeated attempts in vain in conventions in August and October. Finally the “Four Party Agreement” was recognized in extraordinary convention on January 27, 2001, a union convention surrounded by riot police “to defend the convention from the attack of dissidents.”

But things did not end here. Though “Four Party Agreement” stated, “the employment issue would be duly reviewed” “from humanitarian viewpoint” “if the Kokuro convention admits non-responsibility of the JR”, the enemy forces imposed a severer condition: “The barrier is not yet cleared for the settlement because there are still oppositions against the “Four Party Agreement” within the Kokuro”. Put under the pressure, the Kokuro officials set up an inquiry commission to discipline the Tosodan that are firmly opposed to the “Four Party Agreement” and decided to summon the Tosodan members to the inquiry commission in the extraordinary convention on May 27, 2002.

An extraordinary political repression took place on the occasion of the May convention: 10 unionists and their supporters who had distributed flyers to the convention delegates and had tried to discuss with them on union’s disciplinary measures on the Tosodan were arrested by the Metropolitan Police later in October for alleged violence and 8 of them were prosecuted. They are still under detention for ten months after the arrest.

The “Four Party Agreement” finally went bankrupt in December 2002; three ruling parties declared to quit the agreement, pointing out that there were still significant oppositions in the Kokuro. It does not mean, however, a retreat of the reactionary forces. On the contrary, the state power has turned to more aggressive stand to practice anti-labor policy under the Emergency Legislation by means of unmasked police violence. Their major aim is evidently to smash national railway workers’ struggle. Sixteen years after the Division and Privatization of the JNR, the national railway workers’ struggle faces a turning point.

IV. Doro-Chiba’s Sixteen-year Struggle

The Doro-Chiba is a small union with only 500 members. Nevertheless, it waged strikes two times at the decisive moment of the Division and Privatization of the JNR and has maintained unity even under the newly-born JR system. We are proud of this. Let us look at what is happening in the Kokuro. As the “Four Party Agreement” was crushed, the opposition groups against it should have naturally obtained the hegemony over the union. Unfortunately the fact is far from it. Both of the promoters and the opponents of the “Four Party Agreement” are at a loss what to do after the bankruptcy of the Agreement and the Kokuro as a whole faces a serious crisis of its existence before the Convention in September. The Tosodan that has contributed to the survival of the Kokuro is no exception. The Tosodan often complains, “My father did nothing wrong and still he is treated harshly”. But it is not enough to complain.

What Kokuro lacks is fight against the JR capital and the state power. Labor unions are very often obliged to be reconciled with capital. But when you make reconciliation on a fundamental union policy, you are mistaken. Without fighting against the management and changing the power relation through organizing struggle in workplace, community and industry, workers cannot go forward or achieve results. It is important now to emphasize upon this self-evident truth.

The national railway workers’ movement is again in turmoil and moving for a drastic realignment. For example, the JR East Union is splitting. Facing the age of war and mass unemployment, huge amount of workers all over Japan are demanding reconstruction of class-oriented labor movement, overcoming post-war unionism under Sohyo’s leadership. New rise of international class struggles are encouraging development of class-consciousness of the Japanese working people. From this viewpoint, I’d like to describe the sixteen years’ struggle of the Doro-Chiba and draw lessons from it.

1. The new pillar of the struggle under the JR System

The Doro-Chiba carried out two strikes opposing the Division and Privatization of the JNR and 28 union members were dismissed for this. 12 unionists were discriminatively transferred to the JNR Settlement Corporation. All of them were essential activists of the union leadership and workshop. Thus the dismissed union members amounted to 40. Especially in the important strongholds of strike, such as Tsudanuma and Chiba Driver’s Depot, union activists were completely driven off. It was a serious damage to us. The problem was not simply financial. As you know, daily union activities are materialized by officers and activists in the head office and workplaces who provide unionists with necessary information and meet their demands. These essential unionists were all fired.

Those 40 dismissed workers were obliged to work outside the JR workplace or to go out for selling goods of daily necessity for financing. So the workshops were deprived of those activists. The management transferred the members of the new union leadership to other workplaces the instant they were elected. The most extreme example was the Local Tsudanuma; all of the newly elected three key leading members of the union local office were transferred from the Tsudanuma to the Chiba Driver’s Depot. Thus the new union officers were transferred one after another. In regard to the Chiba union head office, the officers were originally composed of dismissed workers and they were no more hit by transfer; but in case of union locals the problem was very severe how to build up leadership. The fellow unionists on the local level endeavored to maintain and strengthen the union organization in spite of serious difficulties. Their struggle was the greatest contribution to the success of the Doro-Chiba in surmounting the most critical situation.

Meanwhile the Japan Railway Companies began business in April 1987. By that time we had been heavily wounded through the repeated punishments for strikes and we naturally needed time for recovery: we were talking about going to hot spring for cure. The enemy forces, however, gave us no time and we dashed into a fresh struggle.

To confront the situation, we worked out a framework of struggle plan.

Struggle on the issue of 28 workers dismissed as punishment under the Governmental and Pubic Corporations Labor Relations Law for their opposition against the Division and Privatization of the JNR and Struggle on the issue of 12 workers discriminatively dismissed by the JNR Reform Law

We set as primary tasks these two struggles: the Struggle on the issue of the 28 workers dismissed as punishment under the Governmental and Pubic Corporations Labor Relations Law for their opposition against the Division and Privatization of the JNR and the Struggle on the issue of the 12 workers discriminatively dismissed by the JNR Reform Law. Of course we have to fight these struggles also in the trials and in the Labor Relations Commission. What is essential for the victory of these struggles is, however, a full mobilization of union members. We need financial basis, which requires us to develop nationwide sales activity of union’s goods.

The 28 colleagues dismissed under the Governmental and Pubic Corporations Labor Relations Law brought the case to the court immediately after they were fired; the 22 colleagues transferred to the JNR Settlement Corporation also entered suit at once. We began fighting first in the court and then one year later also in the Local Labor Relations Commission, for at the outset we had a supposition: even if we win a Labor Relations Commission order favorable for us, the JR would not obey it. In February 1990 just before the March struggle, the Chiba Local Labor Relations Commission issued an order to recognize our demand.

Struggle against management’s offensives after the start of the JR: union busting, forced transfer, redeployment, discriminative appointment, discrimination in promotion, transfer of business, outsourcing, abolishment of bases, etc.

Even after the JR began business, the management obstinately continued union busting against the Doro-Chiba, the only union that fought the Division and Privatization of the JNR. Round the time of the start of the JR, three traditional strongholds of the Doro-Chiba’s struggle, namely, the workshops of Narita, Katsuura and Sakura were abolished. It was practiced not for capital’s efficiency: for example, in Narita, the engine depot was abolished and there is only the Conductors’ Center, though the former is indispensable from the view point of efficiency. Apparently it does not function; in the Tsudanuma Electric Train Depot, an important terminal of the SOBU-line, that comprised 200 engineers, there are now only some dozens of driving crew for a huge number of trains and they are forced to run in a severe condition. Inefficient operation is a result of the anti-union policy against the Doro-Chiba.

For the labor union the loss of the three important strongholds is a terrible blow. But the Doro-Chiba has succeeded in building up unity and establishing local organization in a new form, overcoming difficulties produced by the abolition of the important workplaces.

For sixteen years since the Division and Privatization, the members of the Doro-Chiba have been discriminated in promotions and advancements. Those union members qualified as driver aged 22 or 23 years at the time of the start of the JR have not been adopted as engineer yet today when they are 40 years old. This issue of appointment was brought to the Chiba Local Labor Relations Commission and we won the case. The Central Labor Relations Commission, however, has since been examining the case and has not reached decision. The case is thus suspended. The result is: newly-employed young workers, that is, new comers, are all appointed as drivers, while senior workers with qualification belonging to the Doro-Chiba are not at all appointed. Many of them, some 40 workers have been transferred from driving workshop to station or business services and have been kept there for years.

In JR’s job classification, ordinary engineers are called leading staff and senior engineers are chief staff. Few engineers of the Doro-Chiba are chief staff, while most of them are leading staff. In regard to the inspection branch, things are the same as to engineer. For members of the Doro-Chiba there is currently no possibility for promotion. Second primary task is to break through this situation.

Struggle against extreme downsizing and rationalization in the JR system and struggle for rail safety

The whole number of railway employees decreased from about 400,000 in 1982 under the JNR system to about 200,000 in April 1987 under the JR system in the course of the Division and Privatization. As a result the reduced number of workers were forced to manage with the increased number of passengers. Workers are extremely overburdened through the intense labor saving policy. For sixteen years the rationalization has been carried on in a violent way. Consequently rail safety is seriously threatened. This is because we make it the third primary task to fight for “rail safety”, a traditional struggle of the Doro-Chiba.

Struggle against War and Political Repression

Fourth pillar. In recent development, the Japanese Government has established a system to cooperate with the US in a possible war through re-defining the Japan-US Security Treaty: in 1996 the Japan-US Joint Security Declaration was issued; and in 1999 “Law on a Situation in the Areas Surrounding Japan” and other laws relating the New Guidelines were legislated. Finally in 2003 the Emergency Laws passed the Diet to complete the juridical preparation to go to war. In accordance with these developments, a series of repressive laws have been introduced one after another, including the reactionary revision of the labor legislation. Our fourth pillar is, therefore, the struggle against war and political repression.

Struggle to build up a New Current of Militant Labor Movement after the fall of the Sohyo

The fifth pillar is the struggle to build up a New Current of Militant Labor Unions through establishing cooperation among the militant labor unions and achieving a total integration of the labor movement into a militant union system to overcome the major setback of the labor movement after the fall of the Sohyo.

Since 1998 All-Japan Labor Rally of General Mobilization has been held annually in November under the slogan: “Let’s set up a National Network of Militant Labor Unions!” It is jointly sponsored by Local Kan-Nama, Minato-Godo and Doro-Chiba. On November 11, 2002 we succeeded in holding the fifth rally.

It is imperative for us to overcome various difficulties and difference of views and to build up a broad united front of militant unions. Based on this common recognition we have called out: “Let’s set up a National Network of Militant Labor Unions!”

Struggle to break down the “JR and JR-Soren/Kakumaru Collaboration System” and to increase union membership

Summing up, the struggle to break down the “JR and JR-Soren/Kakumaru Collaboration System”, an unusual labor-management system, and to increase the union membership has constituted a fundamental basis of the Doro-Chiba from the beginning.

2. Major struggles of the Doro-Chiba (1)

These are six essential pillars of our struggle under the JR system. Let us look into some of the most typical struggles out of the history of the Doro-Chiba.

The first strike against forced job transfer

Soon after the JR started business, the management tried to enforce transfer of union members. A large number of workers were forcibly transferred to kiosks, noodle shops, milk shops, and so on in railway stations. We began to fight back and waged strike against it according to the decision of the fourteenth extraordinary convention in April 1988, which declared “to fight with long term successive strikes”. The state power and the JR management reacted to this in an extraordinarily repressive way: for example, in Kameido station where one milk shop worker stood up for only one hour’s strike, an army of riot police, detectives in plainclothes and supervisors of the JR amounting to 600 filled inside and outside of the station buildings! They would have arrested 100 picket liners of the Doro-Chiba there if anything happened. The Metropolitan Police Department might have been offended by the progress of the Doro-Chiba’s struggle: “The Doro-Chiba should be content with the local struggle in Chiba. We never allow the Doro-Chiba to come over to Tokyo, crossing the Edo River”. Anyway their unusual repression showed extreme hatred and hostility against us.

The first drivers’ strike in the JR system protesting the Higashi-Nakano Railway Accident

On December 5, 1989, we decided to wage drivers’ strike on the mainline for the first time after the JR started business. Prior to this strike, a railway accident happened in Higashi-Nakano Station of the Chuo Line in December 1988. The train driver and a lot of passengers were killed. Though the train driver did not belong to the Doro-Chiba, we brought this to the collective negotiation with the management but did not obtain any concrete result. It was just one year after the accident that we stood up for strike with the slogan, “We commemorate the Higashi-Nakano accident. We demand safety on the railroad!” and stopped 350 train services.

Round the year 1988, railway accidents of freight trains, such as rear end collision and derailment very often happened countrywide. As the JR Freight Company doesn’t possess its own rail, it is obliged to run its freight trains on rails borrowed from other JR Companies, such as JR East in east Japan area. Train operation is therefore controlled by the personnel of the JR East, for example. Consequently, not enough attention is paid to freight trains, trains of other company. That is why so many accidents happened in the freight train operation.

The strike of the Doro-Chiba for rail safety impressed numerous railway workers who are suffering under severe situation. The strike attained a success. We came to be aware that unity of workers is strengthened through struggle. Thus the Doro-Chiba has got healed its serious wound given by the struggle against the Division and Privatization.

March strike in 1990 and the beginning of the struggle of 1047 dismissed worker

On March 18, on the eve of anticipated dismissal of workers of the JNR Settlement Corporation due to its expiration date, the Doro-Chiba planned an 84-hour strike under the slogan: “We demand the JR management to follow the orders of the Labor Relations Commissions and to reinstate 12 workers of the Doro-Chiba discriminatively dismissed to the original job in the original workplaces of the JR” “We don’t allow any fresh dismissal”. Originally the strike was planned in accordance with the strike plan of the Kokuro from 19 to 21 March for 72 hours. The JR management, however, began to take several repressive measures to put down the strike: they blocked off union officers from workshops and set up iron walls around the union office (in case of the Local Tsudanuma), etc. We denounced these actions as flagrant intervention into a legal labor act of striking and decided to go into strike 12 hours in advance of the planned schedule in protest against the management’s measure.

The JR management had resorted to an unusual countermeasure to strike by mobilizing all engineers belonging to the JR-Soren/Kakumaru as scabs. The management had worked out a train schedule using scab engineers from the first train of March 19 to meet the planned strike. Their scab plan completely failed; we went into strike at noon of 18, a half-day earlier than had been expected. As a result the whole traffic of the Tokyo area, especially the railway line between Tokyo and Chiba was completely broken down. The Sobu Rapid Line was terribly hit. No train ran between Chiba and Tokyo.

There is one thing we profited from the setting-up of the JR: legalization of right to strike. While we were in the JNR, every time we waged strike, we were dismissed or punished. Now in the JR company, we can go into strike whenever we want as far as the union is united for it. The JR management is not authorized to intervene. Instead the management has made various efforts to put restrictions on strike.

The JR has entirely changed the labor contract into a general contract named “Agreement on Labor Relations”. While the JR-Soren and the Kokuro have concluded new labor contracts, the Doro-Chiba has not concluded the labor contract yet, for the “Agreement on Labor Relations” gives overwhelmingly superior position to the management and subordinate position to the labor union. Without labor contract whatsoever, the Doro-Chiba is in a disadvantageous position in collective negotiation. Normally the union negotiators are admitted to be freed from duty, but for the Doro-Chiba it is not the case. There is currently no grievance committee between the Doro-Chiba and the JR. No union’s bulletin board is admitted in workplaces. The Doro-Chiba has no paid full-time officers; all of the union officers are dismissed workers. For the unions that have no contract, it is not admitted to have paid full-time officers.

According to the “Agreement on Labor Relations”, the union has obligation to notify strike several days in advance and its extent and duration as well. The Doro-Chiba has no legal duty to do so. In practice, however, we inform the management the date of strike, but always with a written warning that any illegal intervention in strike would be responded with escalated tactics. Escalation of tactics means for example extension of strike participants from 100 to 200, or prolongation of 24 hours’ strike to 48 hours’. In the strike of march 1991, for example, we went into strike 12 hours earlier than planned, declaring our position: “We have full right to escalate tactics at our own will. There is no room for you management to intervene”.

The JR management called this strike “illegal” and resorted to the punishment of 141 strikers, among whom two unionists were suspended job. The Doro-Chiba was sued for alleged losses caused by the “illegal” strike and was demanded 21 million yen damages.

Actually, however, the strike exercised a nationwide powerful influence: all capitulating attempts of the Kokuro’s officials, the Socialist Party and the others were blown off all at once. It led to a rise of the struggle of 1047 JNR workers dismissed from the JR Settlement Corporation. Thus the strike of the Doro-Chiba played a historical role and began to gather fresh attention from among the Tosodan.

The Doro-Chiba has established a “a permanent strike readiness”

There is another urgent problem to fight day-to-day unfair labor practices of the management. We are constantly confronted with the collaboration system of the management and the JR-Soren/Kakumaru and required to fight back effectively against their habitual violent attacks. In 1996 we have established “a permanent strike readiness”. It is a thought-out tactic to fight back brutal one-sided enemy attacks.

“A permanent strike readiness’ means: “When unfair labor practice takes place in a workplace, the workplace concerned goes on strike alone on the following day.” “Permanent” means every day, in other words, a workshop can wage strike at any time if necessary. We are informing this union policy to the management after every union convention, indicating examples of unfair labor practices: “when those practices as above mentioned are committed, the workshop concerned alone will go on strike”. If it is the case with the Chiba Driver’s Depot, it alone wages strike. When we notify strike in an ordinary way as in the case of the Spring Labor Offensive, the management would be given enough time to work out scab plan. But in case of “permanent strike”, that is, if strike takes place the next day of management’s misdeeds, there will be no time for the management to take any preventive measure to strike. The establishment of “permanent strike readiness” has actually enabled the Doro-Chiba to prevent forced transfer and other unfair labor practices. The JR management can no more be rude toward us as before. We still maintain this tactic until today. “A permanent strike readiness” has given impetus to our counter-offensive in the workplaces.

3. Major struggles of the Doro-Chiba (2)

Doro-Chiba and 1047 dismissed workers’ struggle

Another important struggle is against the dismissal of 1047 workers of the JNR Settlement Corporation. This struggle has gone through several critical points. The first point was the order of the Central Labor Relations Commission in 1993. Previously in the Local Labor Relations Commission, all of the 12 dismissed workers of the Doro-Chiba had won the case. In the CLRC, however, only two of them got remedy order. The orders of the LLRC on the other ten workers were rejected. No explanation was given at all.

The dismissed workers of the Kokuro got even worse results. In case of Hokkaido, nobody understood what the order really meant. Only one point was clear: the CLRC, recognizing the juridical responsibility of the JR in general, gave the JR a right to decide upon the extent of the unfair labor practices of their own. The Kokuro officials, unsatisfied with this order, brought the issue to the Tokyo District Court, demanding the order of the CLRC to be annulled. On May 28, 1998, the Tokyo District Court delivered a reactionary judgment that unmistakably stated: “The JR has no juridical responsibility”. It was against the expectation of the Kokuro leadership, which became powerless and inactive, confessing: “It’s no use fighting any longer. Finally we’ll lose.”

We have to pay considerable attention to the reactionary character of the judgments of the Tokyo District Court on May 28, 1998. Though the Labor Union Law stipulates that unfair labor practices are forbidden, the Tokyo District Court admitted the unfair labor practices committed by the JR companies in the name of the JNR Reform Law, which flagrantly conflicts with the stipulation of the Labor Union Law. The judgment has revealed the actual intention of the state power to dismantle the Labor Relations Commissions System through the practice of this trial as its first step. A lot of unions of private enterprises have long been engaged in the struggle in the Labor Relations Commissions and they have attentively watched the development of the case of national railway workers. The May 28 judgments motivated us to develop fraternal relations with the Minato-Godo and Local Kan-Nama. We three unions have come to share a view that these judgments justified unfair labor practices committed by the JNR/JR managements directly backed by the state power and that it demonstrates their intention of dismantling the labor legislation and Labor Relations Commissions System in particular. We also agreed on the critical recognition of the present situation I regard to the labor movement: The problem is not simply the national railway workers’ issue but concerns the whole working people. If we let such judgment push its way, unfair labor practices, union busting, mass dismissal and so on would be rampant. It was against this background that we three unions issued a joint appeal to the November Workers’ Rally.

The case of the Kokuro has been brought to the Supreme Court. The Zendoro got a judgment in the High Court in 2002 and appealed to the Supreme Court. The High Court’s judgment on the Zendoro’s case was also terrible. While the May 28 Tokyo District Court’s judgment stated that the JR had no juridical responsibility for the discriminative employment, the High Court’s judgment on the Zendoro, after admitting JR’s responsibility, insist: “The Zendoro unionists were dismissed for their opposition to the Division and Privatization of the JNR. It is an opposing act to the national policy. Therefore, even if they were discriminated in employment, it does not constitute unfair labor practice”. Considering these developments, who knows what kind of judgment awaits us Doro-Chiba. Our case is now on the trial in the Tokyo High Court.

I have already mentioned that Kamei, the then Minister of Transport in the Murayama Cabinet, offered conditions for reconciliation with the Kokuro, after the CLRC’s order, withdrawing the suit for 20.2-billion-yen damages. At that moment, however, the Kokuro did not seem to have made up its mind. It should have rather accepted it at that time than accept “the Four Party Agreement” later. 400 or 500 workers might have come back to the Kokuro for that. They apparently made a failure. But the responsibility for the failure of reconciliation does not lie only in the Kokuro. It is certain that the JR companies most violently resisted it. So did the JR-Soren/Kakumaru.

I insisted at that time: “Now that the Kokuro is freed from 20.2-billion-yen damages issue, it should put all of its power on the struggle of the 1047 dismissed workers”. But the Kokuro did nothing. Later on the occasion of the “Four Party Agreement”, Amari of the LDP commented that the Kokuro executive were not reliable. Thereby he meant the inaction of the Kokuro leadership; the government dropped the sue of 20.2-billion-yen damages for the Kokuro and it got nothing from the Kokuro. That is why the government and the LDP still regard the Kokuro unreliable as negotiator.

Immediately after the reactionary orders of the CLRC, a grouping emerged within the Kokuro, demanding to get rid of the struggle of the 1047 dismissed workers. This small fraction, originating from Akita, north Japan, insisted that 1047 dismissed workers were troublesome for the Kokuro. “Challenge Group”, after its own naming, openly demonstrated its hostility against the Tosodan of the 1047 dismissed workers at the time of the expected judgment on the 20.2-billion-yen damages issue in spring 1995. But this attempt was stopped at this stage of development, for the Kokuro’s executive led by the union president Nagata and the then Minister of Transport Kamei struck a deal on the damages issue. Meanwhile, the “Challenge Group” rapidly developed its activity until it got hold of the Kokuro’s leadership as a mainstream faction through converting Miyasaka, the then Secretary General of the Kokuro to its side, taking opportunity of the reactionary May 28 Tokyo District Court judgments. Finally the “Challenge Group” in the leading position of the Kokuro has gone so far as to accept the “Four Party Agreement”.

On the contrary, the Doro-Chiba has consistently maintained that the Tosodan is the greatest achievement of the national railway workers’ movement and has firmly opposed to these hostile trend in the Kokuro. I am convinced that nobody in the Kokuro than the Doro-Chiba has thought more highly of the struggle of the 1047 dismissed workers.

We won withdrawal of dismissal of 28 workers by the Governmental and Public Corporations Labor Relations Law

We won victories in the struggle against the dismissal of the 28 unionists by the Governmental and Public Corporation Labor Relations Law: in 1992 and 1993 the Chiba District Court ruled the dismissals to be ineffective concerning 7 out of 20 dismissed workers in the first strike and 5 out of 8 dismissed workers in the second strike. The judgment of the Chiba District Court was based on the notion that it was a strike with a political character waged against the Division and Privatization of the JNR and therefore inadmissible strike. Notwithstanding, the Court judged that the dismissals were abuse of the right to dismiss and were excessive measures.

In February 1995 during the trial, the Tokyo District Court proposed reconciliation on the authority of the Chief Judge. The Doro-Chiba had long claimed that the withdrawal of the dismissal of all dismissed works was prerequisite of reconciliation and therefore hardly expected that a reconciliation would come out. We guessed that the management would by no means withdraw the dismissal in spite of the juridical proposition. But quite unexpectedly the JR Settlement Corporation announced us that it was willing to negotiate over the terms of reconciliation with the union. The Corporation seemed to have been in a far more risky position than we had imagined. Finally in March 1997, the dismissal of the 28 workers under the Governmental and Public Corporation Labor Relations Law was completely withdrawn. It was an unprecedented victory in the history of the national railway workers’ struggle.

Actually, however, if we demanded to reinstate the dismissed workers in job of the JR companies, we should have needed a fresh trial because the present employment problem concerned not the former JNR but the present employer, JR, and the job in the JR Settlement Corporation existed no more. So we decided to effect reconciliation by money considering the ages and other circumstances of the dismissed workers. At the time of reconciliation, termination of employment was confirmed and whole amount of wages of these periods were paid as reconciliation money. At the same time, the lawsuit brought by the JNR of 36 yen million damages for alleged strike’s loss was dropped. Other pending issues were also settled, such as estate of the union building that had been transferred from the JR to the JR Settlement Corporation, etc. An Extraordinary Convention of the Doro-Chiba acknowledged the reconciliation that has brought about the dismissal of the 28 colleagues completely withdrawn.

4. What is wrong with Kokuro’s Political Settlement Line?

The basic policy of the Kokuro is to reach a political settlement. In other words, begging for a small concession in exchange for giving away much. The stand of the Doro-Chiba is quite the contrary. We fundamentally demand the reinstatement of the dismissed colleagues in the JR. Therefore we fight against the JR companies, especially the JR East as their center. We are convinced that the reinstatement in the JR would be impossible without overturning the current power relations within the JR East. The fundamental direction of our struggle is to fight against the JR system, not to depend upon the orders of the Labor Relation Commissions or on trials. The main force of the struggle of the Doro-Chiba in the 1047 dismissed workers’ issue is the union members themselves who are actually working in the JR. The nine colleagues belonging to the Doro-Chiba out of the 1047 dismissed workers are of course fighting at the forefront of the struggle, but the union members presently employed in the JR are putting all of their power in this struggle. In the Doro-Chiba, not only the dismissed workers but also other working union members are going out to sales activity to support finance, while in the Kokuro only the members of the Tosodan are engaged in the sales. Though very few of the unionists of the Doro-Chiba are good at selling goods in other workshops or giving enough explanation on the struggle, they have been keeping their sales trip all over Japan. Through years’ of this campaign, the union members of the Doro-Chiba have overcome shyness and have got acquainted with the world outside.

National railway workers used to live formerly only within the JNR, so they didn’t have to think others very much. The typical example is the Kokuro. But when unionists of the Doro-Chiba go to various workplaces for sales activities and meet various workers, they first realize how their own struggle is looked upon by those workers of other workplaces. It has served as a real living lesson for union members. It was more effective than ten times of educational meetings of the union. In the Doro-Chiba, every member knows very well they are the main force of the struggle of the 1047 dismissed workers and are convinced: “The dismissed colleagues had fought as our leaders in sacrifice of their jobs. Owing to their struggle we are now able to work in the JR”. That has been our leading policy in the Doro-Chiba in tackling the problems organizationally.

Also the Kokuro is engaged in sale’s activities to support the dismissed unionists. But the Kokuro’s practice is quite different form ours. Ten percent of the total amount of the sales is deducted by the union district and the rest of the amount is given back to the dismissed unionists. The Kokuro officials explain: “Without deduction of the district, union members are not motivated”. We regard it a very dubious attitude. The Doro-Chiba’s policy is the opposite. In every summer and winter, each union member first buys union goods amounting to 20,000 yen for each and then ask others (individuals or unions) to buy the goods. We think it a proper way as a labor union. There is a fundamental difference of the stance between the Doro-Chiba and the Kokuro.

The Kokuro has been paying 25,000 yen a month to each member of Tosodan by the members’ contribution. The rest has been covered by the members of the Tosodan themselves through their own income by part-time jobs or sales activities. The Support Funds for the Victims of the Repression are not applied to the dismissed workers. The practice of the Zentei (Postal Workers’ Union) in case of the disciplined unionists of the repression of April 28, 1978 is different from that of the Kokuro. Some 60 dismissed unionists of the Zentei in the above mentioned crackdown were paid by the union as union officers (secretary members) on national as well as local level. In contrast, the Kokuro executive have never paid the dismissed unionists. Without being paid by the union, the members of the Kokuro-Tosodan have been fighting for more than ten years. They support themselves through sales activities all over Japan or setting up small companies of their own, etc. The situation is quite peculiar in the Kokuro.

The Doro-Chiba, from the above-mentioned viewpoint, has never regarded the dismissed workers as “troublesome burden”. The Challenge Group of the Kokuro complains: “Since we are too much engaged in the struggle of the 1047 dismissed workers, we have not been able to fight our essential struggle on working conditions and others”. They are lying. The Kokuro officials have practically done nothing for the 1047 dismissed workers. What they did was, on the contrary, to accept the JNR Reform Law, to admit the “Four Party Agreement” and to practice everything to hamper the struggle of the dismissed fellow unionists. They have never fought for withdrawal of the dismissal.

The Doro-Chiba, maintaining its stand on the workshop struggle, has been fighting several struggles for sixteen years also in the court and the Labor Relations Commissions, and making effort to build up a New Trend of Militant Labor Movement being embodied in three unions’ cooperation. The 21st century has brought us in a new situation: an anti-US imperialist guerrilla warfare broke out on September 11, 2001 with a galvanizing impact; we have been urgently demanded to step up our struggle.

V. National Railway Workers’ Movement Faces a Turning Point

1. National Railway Workers’ Struggle at a decisive crossroad

Now national railway workers’ struggle has come to an important turning point. The enemy forces’ offensive tells it to us. The Kokuro has currently only about 20000 members and has apparently no more power to wage effective strike to stop trains. Nevertheless the state power is mounting an all-out offensive against the Kokuro even resorting to such anti-labor political measures as the “Four Party Agreement”. What drives the state power to do so? Because the very existence of the national railway workers’ struggle and the Kokuro itself still have a grave unfavorable significance to the state power.

Generally speaking, the current Japanese labor unions have been mostly integrated into the Rengo and converted to labor-management collaborationist unions. But the Kokuro, a senior labor union in the history of the Japanese labor movement, has stayed out of the unification of the labor organizations practiced by the Rengo. The enemy’s attack fell short of its essential aim. For example, if the Kokuro should seriously declare a clear stand against the current reactionary revision of the labor legislation, 50 or 100,000 workers would certainly gather to fight. The Kokuro naturally occupies an important position in the struggle of “the 20 organizations rallying round transport workers’ unions of land, sea, air and harbor against Emergency Legislation” and is expected to play an important role in it. But actually the Kokuro’s influence is far less perceptible than that of the Seamen’s Union and Air-Crew’s Union in this movement. Why does not the Kokuro take hegemony in the anti-war struggle as a major transport workers’ union? I mean not only to stop the train but rather to display a leading political power. The further the Kokuro goes on fighting, the more seriously the enemy forces would look upon the Kokuro: “We can hardly let Kokuro out of our control”. How the enemy forces estimate the Kokuro is quite different from how the Kokuro’s current leadership regards the Kokuro itself.

Let me take up the “Four Party Agreement” on the 1047 dismissed workers’ issue. If you seriously want to reach reconciliation, you could do it. But I’d recommend you to make them pay high for that. To reconcile with the management in exchange of “Settlement money of 800,000 yen for each dismissed workers” is absolutely out of question. The Kokuro’s top officers never realize the enemy forces regard the Kokuro as a dangerous force from class viewpoint. On the contrary, they are most probably contemplating to join the Rengo if there were not for the 1047 dismissed workers’ issue.

Look at the recent developments around the national railway workers’ struggle: the “Four Party Agreement” finally went bankrupt; a united front has been established to fight the 1047 dismissed workers’ issue with the Kokuro, the Zendoro and the Doro-Chiba crossing the union’s boundary; 8 fellow workers were arrested for the activities round the Kokuro’s Extraordinary Convention on May 27, 2002; the collaborationist system of the JR-Soren/Kakumaru and the JR East cracked.

It all tells us the battle over the Division and Privatization of the JNR is now heading for a showdown. The original aim of the Division and Privatization of the JNR was to destroy the Kokuro and the Doro-Chiba, but it completely failed; two unions have survived. Besides, it has become urgent for the state power and the JR management to break off relations with the Kakumaru, only by whose help the Division and Privatization of the JNR was barely carried out but whose role in the JR is no more favorable for capital. While the Kakumaru has lost its influence in the west part of Japan, it still keeps hold of unions of the JR East, JR Hokkaido and JR Freight that constitute major unions of the JR. As the collaboration system of the JR-Soren/Kakumaru and the JR Companies came to be argued in the Diet, the police have finally been obliged to begin intervening in the matter.

Confronted with imminent attack of the state power, the Doro-Chiba has been fighting in strengthening unity. If we don’t vigorously fight back, we would be terribly beaten.

From another point of view, we have been given a most favorable opportunity to expand our union organization as the collaboration system of the JR-Soren/Kakumaru and the JR Companies is collapsing. It has certainly become no more profitable for the newly employed workers of the JR companies to remain in the JR-Soren for their daily interest.

2. What Is wrong with the Kokuro?

It is crucial now for the Kokuro to return to the right way. We have to find out why the Kokuro is behaving wrongly as is apparent to everybody.

Kokuro has given no account of the result of the struggle against the Division and Privatization of the JNR

The Kokuro, one of the strongest unions in the former Sohyo, has completely abandoned a frontal battle against the Division and Privatization of the JNR without organizing even a single strike. In spite of this, some 40,000 members have remained in the Kokuro in spite of the threat of management’s discrimination and exclusion. This fact shows what the Kokuro really is and where its strength lies: though the National Executive Committee gave no direction of struggle, the rank and file workers of the Kokuro have maintained their pride of being member of the union that used to be the strongest in the Japanese labor movement. There is no such union. Great are the workers in the workshop, that is, rank and file workers, not the officers. Nevertheless no decisive battle was fought.

The major driving force of the postwar Japanese labor movement, the Kokuro, could not at all fight back the Division and Privatization of the JNR. How did it happen? The Kokuro officials, including its leading factions such as the Kyokai-ha and the Kakudo/JCP have not examined the development and the cause, not to say draw necessary lessons from it. Consequently they are repeating the same failure as before.

No policy after the Shuzenji Convention in 1986 (disruption on proposed Labor-Management Joint Declaration)

The second point is as follows: the Kokuro held a Convention in Shuzenji in October 1986 after Doro-Chiba’s two series of strike, and established a new union leadership with Mr. Roppongi as President. The new National Executive, however, presented no policy to promote fighting against the JR capital except to bring the issues of the discriminative employment to the Labor Relations Commissions. For all that it kept carrying the banner of fighting against the Division and Privatization of the JNR and no to Labor-Management Joint Declaration. Meanwhile, the membership of the Kokuro decreased rapidly because of the split caused by the Tessanro, a right wing union. In face of this serious situation, the new leadership of the Kokuro remained inactive and powerless.

After the JR companies started business, the policy of the Kokuro was only to appeal to the Labor Relations Commissions on the unfair labor practices, that is, the discriminative employment. All the JR companies refused to attend the meetings of the LRC. The LRCs after all issued orders favorable to the dismissed workers after two years’ discussion without participation of the JR companies.

Demand for “general package solution” is the root of all evil

In an extraordinary convention in June 1989, the Kokuro adopted a line of demanding the management a “general package solution”. It intended to reach a solution in the Central Labor Relations Commission on all the pending issues, including the discriminative employment and the 20.2-billion-yen damages, that is, to settle the issues altogether at once and reach reconciliation. The only card of the Kokuro at hand for the settlement negotiation was the union-favorable order of the Labor Relations Commissions. Curiously enough the Kokuro leadership did not want the Central Labor Relations Commission to issue orders favorable to the union because it would hamper reconciliation.

This policy of demanding a “general package solution” has been the root of all evil till today. The struggle of the Tosodan and other struggles are all obliged to follow this union policy and are directed for demanding reconciliation through political solution. The Central Labor Relations Commission already issued a final order. Therefore, there was no more room for reconciliation on juridical level. Only hope that remained for the Kokuro was political solution. Then there came the reactionary judgment of the Tokyo District Court on May 28, 1998 that gave a fatal blow to the Kokuro. Thus the Kokuro was driven further into the political settlement. The origin of the defeatist development of the Kokuro leadership lies in the decision of demanding “general package solution” in the extraordinary Kokuro Convention in June 1989. It should be critically examined.

Union conventions are held not for show. Union policies should be seriously discussed and decided there to give direction to the struggle. Once decided in the convention, the union members are naturally bound to materialize the decision. Since the union decision of the Kokuro is a policy of seeking reconciliation through political settlement, no direction of fighting the JR capital could be presented. When the union is willing to reconcile, it cannot fight against the enemy forces. However severely and brutally the JR management attacks the Kokuro, its officials won’t fight back against the JR management, Actually there has been no struggle at all against the offensive of the JR management. I would like to ask urgently every Kokuro member to examine these developments seriously and critically and to draw necessary conclusions.

It is impossible to gain the withdrawal of the dismissal and the reinstatement in the JR without fighting against the JR management. While the management of the JR East is in the collaboration system with the Kakumaru, there could be no reinstatement without fighting this system. The Kokuro will never fight against this.

If the Kokuro had only fought persistently for sixteen years against the JR companies on the same stand as that of the Doro-Chiba’s, it could have succeeded in recruiting more newly employed workers and expanded its organization. While the Kokuro executive have been caught up in asking mobilization of riot police to every union convention, a lot of serious unionists have got disgusted with the Kokuro and many of them are leaving. The Doro-Chiba has recently incorporated several workers who have given up the Kokuro. The Kokuro is to blame for this.

After “Four Party Agreement” went bankrupt, the opponents of the Agreement were also at a loss what to do, because their stand is the political settlement line. We don’t deny political settlement in general in a certain occasion of the labor movement. But it would mean a total surrender to the management when the labor union makes political settlement as principal policy without fighting against the capital and the government or demanding them to sit at table. The Kokuro has offered us an example of retreat and defeat through adopting the line of the political settlement. It is a bitter lesson for other unions.

Now the “Challenge Group” is attempting hastily to disintegrate the Kokuro and to transform it into a Rengo-type union, usurping Kokuro’s property. There are several organizational moves to drop off from the Kokuro. At Kokuro’s national convention in November 2002, it was discussed whether the strike fond should be maintained or dismantled. The strike fond is a reserve fond of the union for strike, and is specified for the use exclusively in case of strike. Nevertheless, the Kokuro officials are trying to distribute it among local unions of each area. The last convention could not decide it yet and concluded that it should be brought up for discussion for one year at workplaces. It is apparently going to be decided at the next convention. The distribution of the strike fond among the local unions would certainly be a farewell signal of the Kokuro officials to run away from the Kokuro. The coming convention of the Kokuro is a decisive battlefield.

Now we are witnessing the collaborationist system of the JR-Soren/Kakumaru and the JR East has been cracked. Within the Kakumaru itself a rift has developed. The JR East capital carried out its labor policy, utilizing the JR-Soren with 50,000 members under the influence of the KAKKUMARU. It has enabled the capital to enforce all kind of rationalization. But the collaboration system is collapsing. It is now a good opportunity for the Kokuro to gain much if it recovers its fighting stand to continue the struggle to demand the withdrawal of the discriminative dismissal against the JR capital.

A trial is under way on the national railway workers prosecuted for the alleged violence on the occasion of the May 27 Extraordinary Convention of the Kokuro, a forged-up case by the top officials and the Tokyo District of the Kokuro in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police. A Committee against the Repression on the May 27 case has been rapidly set up with Mr. SATO Akio, a lawyer, as initiator among other famous persons. It is high time to replace the current Kokuro leadership with a new fighting leadership headed by the militant Tosodan through expanding influence of this committee and its movement in- and outside of the Kokuro. Present leadership of the Kokuro composed of the Challenge Group and the Kakudo/JCP is intending to dissolve the Kokuro itself and doing no good for the struggle and the interest of the national railway workers. It is the Tosodan that has been fighting for years and gathering rich experiences. The current Kokuro leadership should go out of the Kokuro. I don’t think the Kokuro can survive long when it remains as it is today. The coming convention of the Kokuro will witness a clear polarization between the left and the right if the left wing is determined to clarify its stand. It is expected for the militant Kokuro workers to prepare for the convention with this perspective.

Let us fight to change power relation of class struggle

What is now necessary is to change the power relations of the class struggle as a whole. The Kokuro is expected to stand at the forefront. First of all it is absolutely urgent to strengthen the struggle against the JR capital. It is a struggle against capital’s offensive to trample on workers’ right one after another. The Kokuro should put up its banner at the head of the struggle against war and war legislation and play a leading role in fighting back of the labor movement and the Japanese class struggle, which has been forced retreat since the Division and Privatization of the JNR. Only as an integral part of this class struggle can the struggle of the 1047 dismissed workers win the battle. It is imperative to achieve a reconstruction of the Kokuro by overthrowing the existing leadership that has been totally involved in the “Four Party Agreement”. It is also necessary to overcome the widespread hopelessness even among the opposition groups to the “Four Party Agreement”. New dynamic development of national railway/JR workers’ movement for realignment offers an ample opportunity.

Chance and crisis come always together. A chance can change into a crisis unless it is grabbed. We should fully make use of the chances before us for successful struggle.

Today capitalism cannot feed workers any further. At the same time, it cannot survive any longer without waging war. Angry workers are rising up all over the world-tens of millions of workers’ revolts in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. Japan makes no exception. Conditions are ripe also in Japan for such a massive upsurge. The national railway workers’ struggle must play a central role in it. Well aware of the present situation, the Doro-Chiba is determined to continue fighting.

The sixteen years’ struggle since the Division and Privatization of the JNR has taught us much. The core of the lessons is unity on workshop and strengthening of union organization. We will make effort to develop our struggle to be a fighting example of the Japanese labor union. [THE END]

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