RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held the 85th May Day Central Rally in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, on April 26 under the slogan "Let's pool our strength and link our hearts to raise the level of living standard for everyone!" About 40,000 union members participated in the event.
RENGO President's address
At the beginning, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga addressed the participants, saying, "While the government is apparently intending to revise worker protection rules for the worse, this year's May Day rally has been positioned as part of our campaigns to put a stop to the stratifying society and realize the improvement of living standards. We must firmly oppose the revision for the worse of worker protection rules, which would promote the stratifying society using working people as a springboard. This year RENGO marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of its founding. Never forgetting our founding tenet of "bringing together our strength to realize the happiness of all working people", let us mount active campaigns and pave the way to a new age!"
Prime Minister's address
Next, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was the first prime minister of a Liberal Democratic Party administration to attend the May Day Central Rally in 13 years, delivered a guest address on behalf of the government. Prime Minister Abe said, "Since the inauguration of the Abe administration, we have been promoting three-arrow policies aimed first and foremost at achieving economic growth. In order to make Japan more affluent, it is necessary to seize this opportunity to break away from deflation on a basis which goes beyond differences of opinions among the ruling and opposition parties. We will do our utmost to ensure that corporate earnings lead to better wages and working people can actually feel the benefits of economic recovery."
Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Norihisa Tamura then addressed the rally, saying, "It is necessary to build a society in which all the people can participate and everyone can improve their abilities and make use of them. For this purpose, we are endeavoring to build an environment in which people can work safely, secure jobs in growth industries, strengthen the labour market infrastructure, realize diverse ways of working, and promote the employment and activity of women and young people."
DPJ President's address
Besides these addresses, there were also speeches by opposition party representatives, including Democratic Party of Japan President Banri Kaieda, and by Tokyo Vice-Governor Nobuhiro Maeda, as well as appeals on behalf of nonregular workers and the areas most severely hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. DPJ President Kaieda said, "In order to break away from deflation, it is important to correct disparities, stabilize employment, and improve social security. Furthermore, we must firmly oppose the revision for the worse of worker protection rules."
Approval of May Day Declaration
Finally, the participants ended the rally by unanimously approving this year's May Day Declaration and a Special Resolution Firmly Opposing the Revision for the Worse of Worker Protection Rules.
In parallel with the rally, RENGO also held a "union carnival" at the venue with many booths set up by labour unions, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit organizations, political parties, and other groups, centering on support for the areas most severely hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake. JILAF also operated a booth, introducing its projects and organizing games for children and other activities.