JILAF invited a total of 12 people from countries in Central and South America to visit Japan from January 18 to 31, 2015. The participants consisted of six people from Portuguese-speaking Brazil (including three women) and six people from Spanish-speaking Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Venezuela (including three women). All of the participants were cheerful and vivacious, and communication among them was lively. All of them actively asked questions at the lectures and places visited and tried sincerely to learn about industrial relations in Japan, the labour situation in this country, and other topics.
Through the labour-related lectures the participants deepened their understanding of the knowledge required as a precondition for learning about the labour situation in Japan. They asked questions about such matters as the level at which labour agreements are concluded and the wage gaps existing between similar jobs. Since Japan at the time was in the midst of the spring labour struggle, they also showed a lot of interest in this annual event.
Regarding labour administration, rather than the role of the administration itself they asked many questions about specific schemes, such as the unemployment insurance system and minimum wage amounts.
At RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), the participants listened with interest to an explanation of RENGO’s vision of a “secure society centered on work as its core.” They also showed much interest in specific action toward its realization and asked questions about efforts to amend legislation and correct disparities. In the lecture by an industrial federation, held with the cooperation of Zenkoku Gas (Federation of Gas Workers’ Unions of Japan), they deepened their understanding of an industrial federation’s activities and efforts to formulate industrial policy, centering on efforts during the spring labour struggle.
In the regional program, the participants visited RENGO Ehime, where they had discussions on a wide range of topics, including youth activities, environmental problems, the organization rate, and the appointment of women officials. At a Hello Work employment office, as well as being amazed at the quality of the services, they asked questions about such matters as qualifications for subscribing to employment insurance and how Hello Work would respond in the case of large-scale redundancies. Furthermore, in order to inspect a workplace, the participants visited the Matsuyama Factory of Iseki & Co., Ltd. After inspecting the factory, they asked questions and stated their own opinions regarding kaizen activities, rationalization, the maintenance of jobs, and noise in the factory.
Through the lecture by the Japan Productivity Center, they deepened their understanding of the need to improve productivity and establish constructive labour-management relations. At the same time, though, some doubt was expressed regarding the difficulty of achieving a fair distribution of profits. At Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association of Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), since some kind of mutual-aid systems for workers exist in their own countries, the participants showed a lot of interest in the mutual-aid insurance scheme.