In Tokyo, about 33,000 workers attended a rally on Sunday (19 February) to demand full employment and a large tax cut.
In Tokyo, about 33,000 workers attended a rally on Sunday (19 February) to demand full employment and a large tax cut. The rally, at Yoyogi Park, was a prelude to this year's spring labour campaigns by private and public employees, mainly for higher wages. Smaller rallies were held in 20 other Japanese cities.
SYNOPSIS: The Tokyo rally was organised by Sohyo, the largest of Japan's several trade union federations and the power base of the Japan Socialist Party.
It was an impressive turn out, but observers say prospects for Japan's workers are not encouraging. Japan, like other countries, is still suffering the effects of the oil embargo of 1973. A recession, especially in the textile, steel and aluminium industries, has been aggravated by growing United States and European pressure against Japanese exports and by an appreciating yen, triggered by Japan's huge 1977 financial surplus.
The Liberal Democratic Party government of Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda hopes to reflate the economy and reduce unemployment, but with inflation running at just over seven percent and unemployment expected to reach 1,300,000 by March, things are not looking too bright for the average Japanese worker.
Observers believe that labour leaders recognise they will not be helping themselves by pressing for high wage increases.
The rally showed that workers were as impassioned as ever, but most Japanese economists are thought to believe that labour will settle this year for modest seven to 10 percent increases at the most.
With small firms going bankrupt at the rate of 1,000 per month, moderation is expected to be the key word.