The 10th conference of the International Trade Union Confederation's Asia-Pacific Labour
Network (APLN) was held in Tokyo on September 2-3 with the participation of 32 representatives
from international industry-related labour organizations. (Rengo, the Japanese national
center, was represented by President Nobuaki Koga and General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo.)
The APLN conference was convened in the hope that the views of trade unions would be
included and its final statement reflected in the Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be held in Yokohama on November 13-14 and the APEC
Human Resources Development Ministerial Meeting to be held in Beijing on September 16-17.
In addition, the APLN representatives also held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister
Naoto Kan and related ministers (Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, Minister of
Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare
Akira Nagatsuma, Vice-Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Ritsuo Hosokawa, Parliamentary
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shuji Kira, and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro
In this meeting, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow explained the views of trade unions
in line with the APLN statement, including the need to establish an APEC Labour Forum,
and requested the Japanese government, as this year's APEC chair, to devote its utmost
efforts in this direction. ITUC General Secretary Burrow pointed out that while the APEC
economies have been achieving steady growth, what is lacking is the participation of
workers in the policy-making process and compliance with core labour standards. She said
that labour has been debating the matter for the past 15 years, but there is still no
opportunity to present the knowledge possessed by trade unions in APEC. Trade union leaders
and workers are people who can make a social contribution, she said, so labour should
be granted the offcial advisory status in the frawork of APEC as business circles.
Prime Minister Kan replied, "I believe that the power of labour circles is important
in APEC too. In Japan also, the government cooperates with labour circles in tackling
policy management and social issues. As the chair of APEC, Japan will listen closely
to the proposals of the ITUC and other trade union organizations and make efforts in
that direction. Regarding the establishment of an APEC Labour Forum as well, we would
like to gain the understanding of related countries and realize it as soon as possible."
Prime Minister Kan and the other responsible ministers also gave explanations of other
matters, and very fruitful discussions took place.
Finally, Prime Minister Kan promised efforts by the Japanese government, saying, "I take
the proposals of the APLN statement very seriously and once again promise to have them
reflected in the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting."