RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held its 14th Biennial Convention at the Tokyo International Forum on October 6-7 under the slogan "Stop the stratified society! Let's build a secure society through the solidarity of all workers!" About 1,600 union members from affiliated organizations participated.
At the beginning, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga proclaimed, "The government's methods in enacting the revised Worker Dispatch Act and security legislation were extremely highhanded and have cast a dark shadow over the future of this country. The establishment of a no-overtime-pay system for high-level professionals, which excludes some high-income earners from regulations governing working hours, is an undesirable amendment of worker protection rules and a policy that will be detrimental to employment. Let's rally our forces and mount an attack on the Abe administration!" President Koga also called for more effort by the Democratic Party of Japan, saying, "It is a stark fact that the public has not regained its trust of the DPJ. Since the DPJ claims that it stands on the side of ordinary folk, taxpayers, consumers, and working people, it should act as the pivot of opposition forces."
Next there were addresses from the overseas guests, Deputy General Secretary Jaap Wienen of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), General Secretary Noriyuki Suzuki of the ITUC's Asia-Pacific regional office (ITUC-AP), and General Secretary John Evans of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Trade Union Advisory Committee (OECD-TUAC). The convention was also attended by 41 representatives from 31 organizations, including ITUC members. In addition, 11 trade union leaders from Afghanistan invited to Japan by JILAF attended as observers.
In the convention itself, RENGO General Secretary Rikio Kozu proposed draft campaign policies for fiscal 2016-17, including (1) expansion and strengthening of organization toward the realization of a 10-million-strong RENGO; (2) promotion of support for and participation by nonregular workers, unorganized workers, and young people; (3) the building of a secure society centered on work as its core; (4) the uplifting of working conditions and realization of decent work; (5) the realization of a gender-equal society; (6) the strengthening of political activities toward the realization of policies; and (7) the realization of a sustainable society through fair globalization. Following questions and supplementary statements from delegates and confirmation of the leadership's views on these draft policies, they were unanimously adopted.
As new executives, General Secretary Kozu was elected as president and President Naoto Ohmi of UA Zensen (Japanese Federation of Textile, Chemical, Food, Commercial, Service, and General Workers' Unions) as general secretary. In a press conference after his appointment, President Kozu stated, "Ordinary citizens gathered to question whether the security legislation was really desirable. It is important for RENGO also to build a social movement. Our efforts to oppose the undesirable amendment of labour legislation, which is our top priority, have included rallies, sit-downs in front of the National Diet, and demonstrations. We must continue this broad appeal." President Kozu emphasized RENGO's approach of taking a stand against social absurdities and at the same time seeking to expand organization.
Selected works in the Search-for-Happiness Art Exhibition sponsored by RENGO's Institute of Labour Education and Culture (ILEC) were on display in the lobby of the Tokyo International Forum venue, including works by pupils of a nonformal school in Nepal operated by JILAF, one of which received a special prize.