41,000 workers take part in May Day rally in Tokyo

About 280,000 people took part in 77th May Day rallies on May 1st at 371 locations throughout Japan.

ŽÊ^ This year's May Day rallies were held at a time when the government is rushing to get a host of undemocratic bills enacted, including a bill to adversely revise the Fundamental Law of Education, bills to adversely revise the medical insurance system, and a national referendum bill linked to adverse constitutional revision.

In Tokyo, about 41,000 people attended the Central May Day Rally held at Yoyogi Park.

In the rally participants strengthened their determination to defend the Constitution, realize the various keen demands of workers and the people in general, and stop the Koizumi government's "structural reform" plans as well as the series of undemocratic laws.

After the rally, participants marched in demonstration on three courses.

Develop movements in workplaces and local communities to heighten public awareness

In his speech on behalf of the Central May Day Organizing Committee, National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) President KUMAGAI Kanemichi said: "The bill to adversely revise the Fundamental Law of Education in conjunction with the plan to adversely revise the Constitution was introduced to the Diet on April 28. In the Diet, which will resume as soon as the May holidays are over, the government and ruling parties will rush to ram the adverse 'medical reform' bill through the House of Representatives and introduce a bill to define procedures for holding a national referendum. This year's May Day celebration is taking place amid a tense situation that has an important bearing on our future." He called on all workers to rise in this historical struggle in workplaces and local communities and win victory."

He pointed out that the Koizumi "structural reform" agenda are facing public calls for a review because "reforms" mean forcing the people to pay more and widening the gap between rich and poor. He said: "Let us organize as many local actions as possible throughout the country in preparation for the May 27 Rally in order to press the government with majority will and pave the way for building a new Japan."

Article 9 is Asia's lifeline

ŽÊ^ SHII Kazuo, Japanese Communist Party chair, and essayist Pak Kyongnam, who is a second-generation Korean resident of Japan, spoke in solidarity with May Day rally participants.

Ms. Pak said: "I believe that Japan is called upon to face up to its past. Article 9 of the Constitution is a lifeline also for Asian nations. I hope that Japan will build relations of trust with the rest of Asia instead of continuing subservience to the United States."

She expressed her determination to do all she can to "work for a society that rewards working people, respect human dignity and care for human lives, so that we can leave a descent society to our children."

Speakers also included representatives of the Japan Federation of Publishing Workers' Unions (Shuppan-roren), the All Japan Automobile Transportation Workers' Unions (Jiko-soren), and the Zenroren Task Force for the Struggle for Another Japan.

Participantsf comments

YAMADA Hiroko of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teachersf Union, who collected signatures opposing the adverse revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, said: gThe Fundamental Law of Education provides a very simple formulation of what the education is about. Ifm afraid that the proposed adverse revision provides regulations that would hamper the freedom of education and would force childrenfs development into uniformity. We have just made representations to members of parliament and found that they even did not understand the meaning of the proposed revision. It is very important to inform the public more about the issue.h

MIKAMI Ryoichi, an air traffic controller at Haneda Airport (Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Ministry Workersf Union), said: gMy workplace is understaffed. Despite an increase in the number of women air traffic controllers, the budget does not include temporary staffing to fill the vacancy left by women controller who take family leave for childcare. This is our major demand.h

FURUTO Takashi from the IBM Japan branch of the All Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers Union (JMIU) spoke about the question of the extended employment of retiring workers as follows: gWorkers at 55 may apply for their employment to be extended to 65. But extension is to be renewed every year based on job performance. This makes us worry that extension will not be renewed after 56. So we need to continue to struggle for job security.h