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No.68(2011/11/7)
RENGO Holds 2011 Rally for the Return of the Northern Territories
On September 10–11 RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held the 2011 Peace Nosappu Rally for the return of the Northern Territories in Nemuro, Hokkaido, with the participation of about 600 union members.
At the beginning of the assembly, RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo said emphatically, "This year is the sixty-sixth year since the Northern Territories [four islands to the north of Japan] were illegally occupied, and the illegal occupation by Russia is still continuing. On the basis of its plan for the social and economic development of the Kuril Islands, Russia plans to achieve economic development and infrastructure construction on the islands with the help of foreign capital, thereby making its occupation of the Northern Territories a fait accompli. RENGO calls on the government to build a powerful diplomatic base vis-à-vis Russia. From now on we will do our utmost for the complete return of the four islands."
From the government, Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba sent a message to the assembly, saying with determination, "Although we must solve the problem of the Northern Territories as quickly as possible, the positions of the Japanese and Russian governments are far apart. We will negotiate tenaciously toward the conclusion of a peace treaty."
Among other events held with the participation of local citizens of Nemuro, there was a symposium on the Northern Territories, a panel exhibit relating to the present status of the Northern Territories, and a study session concerning the islands. The participants learned about the Northern Territories problem and peace treaty problem and shared their recognition concerning the territorial issue.
Participants made such comments as "The former residents of the islands who have continued their wish to return home are getting old, so settlement of the Northern Territories problem is a race against time" and "Toward the realization of permanent peace, it is important for labour unions to disseminate the reality of war and preciousness of peace in workplaces, families, and communities."

The Northern Territories Problem
Despite the fact that Japan unconditionally surrendered in the Pacific War on August 15, 1945, immediately afterward the Soviet Union invaded four islands (Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group), which are indigenous Japanese territory. These four islands, called the Northern Territories, are still illegally occupied by Russia. The Japanese government is calling on Russia to return all four islands.
RENGO Holds "9/8 Rally for the Early Enactment of the Revised Worker Dispatch Act and Establishment of Rules for Elderly, Fixed-term Contract, and Part-time Workers"
On September 8 RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held the "9/8 Rally for the Early Enactment of the Revised Worker Dispatch Act and Establishment of Rules for Elderly, Fixed-term Contract, and Part-time Workers." The rally, which took place in Tokyo, was attended by about 300 union members.
RENGO considers the proposed revision of the Worker Dispatch Act to be a top-priority issue and has appealed both inside and outside the organization for the development of activities aimed at its early enactment in the current extraordinary session of the Diet.
Speaking on behalf of the organizers, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga stated, "Improving the conditions of nonregular workers, such as dispatch, fixed-term contract, elderly, and part-time workers, will lead to enhancement of the interests of workers as a whole. RENGO will continue its efforts for the sake of all workers."
After RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo had given a progress report, there were situation reports on such topics as the Worker Dispatch Act, legislation on fixed-term labour contracts, the Elderly Employment Stabilization Act, and the Part-time Work Act.
Deputy Secretary General Koriki Jojima of the Democratic Party of Japan then declared with determination, "We definitely want to get the revised Worker Dispatch Act enacted during this extraordinary session of the Diet and change society into one with employment stability."
Finally, the participants unanimously confirmed the rally's appeal, and the event closed with everyone giving three shouts of "Let's do our best!"

*The official name of the Worker Dispatch Act is the Act for Securing the Proper Operation of Worker Dispatching Undertakings and Improved Working Conditions for Dispatched Workers.
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