JILAF invited 10 persons from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa to visit Japan from September 29 to October 12.
Although considerable differences from Japan could be seen frequently with regard to trade union activities, the participants highly evaluated Japanese society, which has achieved development, and the national character of the Japanese people that supports this society. In particular, their eagerness to obtain some kind of knowledge regarding the role of Japanese trade unions, which have contributed to the nation’s development up to now, and the relationship between social and economic development and trade unions was clearly evident.
In the industrial federation lecture, they heard about the organization and activities of Kikan Roren (Japan Federation of Basic Industry Workers’ Unions). The participants showed special interest in Kikan Roren’s mutual-aid schemes. In the RENGO Niigata program, through discussions with RENGO Niigata officials, they learned about the everyday activities of a RENGO regional branch. They also took part in a rally and demonstration calling for the realization of decent work. In addition, they visited Hello Work Niigata, where they learned about the state-run job introduction service. Furthermore, the participants visited East Japan Railway Company’s Niitsu Rolling Stock Plant, where they observed the manufacturing site and heard an explanation of workplace environment countermeasures.
Through this program, the participants seemed to understand that Japanese systems such as the labour-management consultation system, the spring labour struggle (shunto), and efforts to improve productivity have built today’s constructive labour-management relations and that the labour movement and labour-management relations in their own countries today have been shaped by long histories and cultural backgrounds. That is to say, the participants fully realized that Japan’s experiences until now were different and its systems would not necessarily all function effectively straightaway if transplanted lock, stock, and barrel to their own countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Nevertheless, they engaged positively in the training trying to obtain some suggestions from the Japanese way. In particular, they were clearly very interested in the role that Japanese unions have played in realizing social development.