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ACTION PROGRAM
FOR A BRIGHT & HOPEFUL FUTURE

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (ZENROREN) was formed on 21st November 1989, meeting the ardent expectation of working people in Japan.

The major aim, which is the basis of all actions by the ZENROREN, is to unite workers and other people to fulfill its historic role, so as to realize the workers' legitimate demands for a bright and hopeful future for all working people.

(I)

The one hundred year history of the Japanese labor movement is one of fierce struggles for the dignity of workers, for peace and democracy, and for social progress.

In pre-war time, under militarism connected with the Tennoist (imperial) system unknown in other countries, the Japanese workers and trade unions continued their struggle for a life worthy of human beings, and against wars of aggression. However, under the cruel repression at that time, the workers and all other sections of the people were mobilized for wars, or jailed by the Public Security Maintenance Law. During those days of hardships, all trade union organizations were suppressed. Leaders of the trade unions, who willingly submitted to state power, managed to change the trade unions into the "Patriotic Industrial Association", an organization for labor-capital collaboration to promote the wars of aggression.

After the end of the Second World War, encouraged by the victory of the international anti-fascist united forces, there was a new move to reconstruct the Japanese trade unions that sprung up under the new Japanese Constitution. The struggle to find a way out of starvation and for democracy developed like a strong tidal wave, an example of which was seen in the plan for a "First February General Strike" (1947). But the U.S. occupation forces plus Japanese reaction relentlessly oppressed the militant workers and trade unions. They deprived the workers in the public sector of their fundamental rights, imposed large-scale "rationalization" measures with mass dismissals, by making the most of such frame-ups as the "Matsukawa case" (in 1949) and instituted an anti-communist purge. (Note: Matsukawa case. A cargo train was derailed in August, 1949 and communist workers were arrested and charged with the crime. After a protracted court struggle, with support from wide sections of the people, the defendants, who had faced death or other heavy penalties, were finally declared not guilty.) Influenced by anti-communism, some of the trade union leaders gave a helping hand to this maneuver of oppression, in some cases by splitting trade unions.

Despite of the oppression, struggles by workers and trade unions went on against the Korean War and U.S. military bases in Japan, and for prohibition of atomic and hydrogen bombs. They waged the spring struggle every year, the struggle at Mitsui Miike Coal Mines, against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1960, against the U.S. war of aggression on Vietnam, and for the restoration of Okinawa (from U.S. military rule) to Japan. They fought to bring progressive local governments into being. Their struggles were thus aimed at improving the living standards of the working people, for their rights, and for peace and democracy. With the two oil crisis after 1973 as the trigger, the contradictions in Japan's political and economic system burst out.

The government and business circles, which saw this as a serious crisis for themselves, further consolidated the position of Japan as part of the Western Camp. The policies they pursued in order to overcome difficulties, that is "economic restructuring" and "administrative reform" with a retrogressive nature, shifted burdens onto the workers and all the people. At the same time, being afraid of possible counterattack from workers and people, and with an aim of shutting them out, the government and business circles made concerted efforts so as to undermine and break up the labor front.

Trade unions that supported and collaborated with these policies played a central role to push forward the plan to realign the trade union movement, under the guise of "total unification", but which, in reality, screened and excluded militant workers and trade unions.

We resolutely reject this course. With a view to safeguarding the interests of the working people, we have established the National Confederation of Trade Unions (ZENROREN) as the national center of militant trade unions.

(II)

Carrying on the positive militant tradition of the Japanese trade union movement, the ZENROREN will make every effort to materialize the demands of the workers and people of all strata, the demands that have become more and more pressing.

Workers can be a social force in a real sense, only when they unite themselves in large number around their common demands for common struggle.

Japan has now more than 45 million workers, and organized workers amount to over 12 million, forming the greatest rank of social force. In order to bring this big force into full play, to an extent worthy of its scale, it is absolutely necessary to build great unity of workers on the basis of their demands.

Anti-communism and labor-capital collaboration followed by some trade unions, and their support or exclusion of a specific political party, stand as an obstacle to the unity of workers and of the labor front, and are a serious obstacle preventing the "force of majority" from being brought to full play.

What is imperative now is to return to the starting point of trade unionism, which was originally born as an organization independently uniting workers to realize their demands, beyond differences of thought and belief.

We resolutely maintain three principles: independence from capital, independence from political parties and unity of action based on common demands as the maximum guarantee to workers' unity.

The ZENROREN which attaches much value to these principles could surely have vital power to rally the force of majority and thus be a parent body in forming a united labor front of Japan.

The ZENROREN is composed of national industrial unions and prefectural organizations, which at local level unite trade unions. It will develop nationwide struggles, combining actions by industrial federations with actions organized at local levels.

(III)

The ZENROREN will fight to realize the following basic goals:

  1. Achievement of workers' urgent demands: substantial wage increase and establishment of a nationwide uniform minimum wage system; shorter working hours; rejection of "rationalization" measures with reduction of staff; security of employment; improved status for working women; improvement of working standards up to the level of international labor standards including the ILO Conventions.
  2. Realization of people's demands: opposition to the arms build-up line and retrogressive administrative reform; improved social welfare system; abolition of the consumption tax; opposition to the liberalization of rice, agricultural and livestock products; rehabilitation of such primary industries as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the " coal industries; and more funds for people's life.
  3. Secured democracy at workplaces, elimination of unfair labor practices and the full guarantee for workers and trade unions of the right to organize, to collective bargaining and collective action.
  4. Elimination of all forms of discrimination based on social status, race or nationality, the guarantee of fundamental human rights for all people, including equality of the sexes.
  5. Defense of freedom of association and freedom of expression including speech and press; establishment of democratic education and proper development of culture and sports.
  6. Establishment of democratic control over big monopoly enterprises, and promotion of small and medium-sized businesses; trade on the footing of reciprocity and equality, and economic democracy; a tax system to serve the people's interests; public administration and finance based on democracy, efficiency and fairness; and securing of autonomy for local self-governments.
  7. To organize unorganized workers and get all workers and trade unions united in a united labor front.
  8. Opposition to making the Tenno (emperor) head of state, mal-revision of the Constitution, reactionary moves in the judicature; defense of the democratic provisions in the Constitution; revision of political funds control law incorporating the prohibition of donations from enterprises and organizations; and establishment of a democratic electoral system, including voting rights from the age of 18.
  9. Abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, withdrawal of U.S. military bases, enactment into law of the three non-nuclear Principles, and the enactment of a Hibakusha (A-bomb sufferers) relief law.
  10. Formation of a united front aimed at the realization of politics and economy in the people's interests, and a non-nuclear, non-aligned, neutral and democratic Japan.
  11. Prevention of nuclear war, the elimination of nuclear weapons, dissolution of all military blocs, establishment of a New International Economic Order devoted to lasting world peace, with respect of national sovereignty and preservation of the global environment.

(IV)

The ZENROREN shall proceed with its activity on the basis of the following points:

  1. Practice of democratic trade unionism to the full, based on the principle of "all-hands decisions, all-hands actions", and guarantee to its members of freedom of opinions on all the activities of ZENROREN.
  2. Adherence to complete independence from capital (enterprise), the government and political parties.
  3. No support to or exclusion of a specific political party; guarantee for its members of freedom of thought and belief, and freedom of political activities and support to any political party. Promotion of cooperation and common actions with political parties on agreed demands and tasks.
  4. With a view of overcoming the weakness of company-based unions, utmost efforts to be made to develop united actions on the industrial level, based on workplaces, and strengthen actions on the regional level.
  5. Coordination of workers' actions on the industrial level with actions on the regional level, leading thus to develop nationwide united actions.
  6. Proper relations between economic and political struggles in development of movements.
  7. Establishment of fraternal relations of solidarity and development of common actions with trade unions that are not members of the ZENROREN.
  8. Promotion of common actions for realization of the demands of all workers including the unorganized, and of the people, and development of fraternal and solidarity activities with cooperatives and others.
  9. Importance attached to negotiations with the government, employers and economic organizations so as to materialize institutions and policies to defend workers' rights and living.
  10. Presentation of positive proposals on policies from the viewpoint of an independent organization and promotion of education and welfare activities for workers.
  11. We promote international solidarity for protection of workers’ rights and advancement of their demands on the position of "Workers of the world unite"

- Adopted at the inaugural convention of ZENROREN on 21 November 1989;
- Revised at the 23th Regular Convention of ZENROREN on 25 July 2008.