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Bring success to the "Zenroren National Caravan to Let the Constitution Guide" and leap in the effort to increase local movements and organization strength

Appeal from the Zenroren 49th General Council Meeting

National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) 49th General Council Meeting

August 1, 2013

In the July 21 House of Councilors election, the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic and New Komeito parties secured its stable majority in the House of Councilors (including seats that were not up for election), as it did in the House of Representatives late last year, by garnering more than a majority of the seats. But notably, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), which stood out among all opposition parties as a party that offered an alternative to the much criticized LDP's policies, won 8 seats, increasing its seat to 11 seats, including its seats that were not up for election. With this parliamentary strength, the JCP has the right to submit bills by itself. The Democratic Party, which reneged on its public promises, suffered a crushing defeat. The Your Party (Minna no to) and the Japan Restoration Party (Nippon Ishin no kai), which had emerged as a self-styled "third force", were unsuccessful. The labor movement represented by Zenroren organized a nationwide campaign for the workers' acute demands for stable livelihoods and peace, contributing to exposing the so-called two-party system's failure and the true colors of these "third force" groups as a driving force for neo-liberal "structural reform" policies.

Taking advantage of being in the majority in both houses of the Diet (parliament), Prime Minister ABE Shinzo's government is set to implement a "growth strategy", which is the third of three pillars of its economic policy. Aiming to turn Japan into the easiest country in the world for foreign companies to do business, the growth strategy will promote tax breaks on capital investments and the destruction of rules of employment through giving employers freedom to dismiss workers by introducing a limited regular employee system and expanding sectors that can use discretionary work schedules that force employees to work overtime without pay.

What is more, the consumption tax rate will be increased (to 8 percent from the present 5 percent) from April next year; the social security programs will be adversely revised, including the raising of the pension age; promotion of the restart of nuclear reactors under new regulatory standards, and participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks by promising that 5 products would be exempt from being made tariff-free. Reactionary moves toward adversely revising the Constitution are picking up, including legislation on procedures to revise the Constitution to determine the age of eligibility for voting in national referendums and the establishment of a national security basic law, which will allow Japan to exercise a right of collective self-defense, based on the proposal made by a panel to discuss the reorganization of the legal foundation of the security.

However, public opinion surveys show that all these policies are opposed by a majority of the people. The mainstream media say the recent House of Councilors election put an end to the divided Diet. But discord between the ruling majority and the public persists. Zenroren will do all it can to stop the runaway Abe administration by building on a surge of people's demands and the advance we have made.

In this year's autumn and year-end struggle, we will promote the campaign for a secure society free of economic anxieties. The campaign focuses on the Zenroren Nationwide Caravan 2013, which will travel through the Japanese archipelago to "Let the Constitution Guide" in opposition to adverse labor law revisions, calling for stable and quality jobs to be provided; for rules of employment to be established; for the national minimum wage to be established at 1,000 yen; and for the wages for public employees to be raised. This campaign also calls for opposition to putting nuclear power plants back online and a swift move to a Japan with zero nuclear power. It calls for opposition to Japan's participation in TPP free trade talks; revocation of the consumption tax increase, opposition to adverse overhaul of the social security programs, opposition to additional deployment of Ospreys and their training flights in Japan, dismantling of US military bases in Japan, and opposition to adverse revision of the Constitution. We bring united all forces to help develop nationwide struggles based on local joint actions.

Zenroren will hold a national meeting to share experiences and opinions about the effort to strengthen local movements and organizational buildup, hoping to help in creating a leap in the union organization buildup after this meeting by establishing concrete mid-term plans of action.

In the name of its 49th General Council meeting, Zenroren calls for a successful Zenroren Nationwide Caravan 2013 to let the Constitution guide. We will work to help in heightening public awareness and increasing the movement against adverse revision of the Constitution and for making the use of the Constitution, so that we can establish a society in which people can live safer lives without fears. Let us expand our cooperation with as many workers and unions as possible on national issues and work hard to win the demands and recruit union members.

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