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Government-Rengo Top-Level Meeting

On December 1 Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held a top-level meeting with the government at the Kantei (Prime Minister's Office) in Tokyo. On the Rengo side, the meeting was attended by President Nobuaki Koga, Deputy Presidents Naomi Okamoto and Hideaki Tokunaga, Vice-Presidents Kiyoshi Ochiai, Shoji Arino, Kazuharu Kawano, Rikio Kozu, and Tomoyasu Kato, and General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo. On the government side, the attendees were Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Ritsuo Hosokawa, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata, Minister of State for National Policy Koichiro Gemba, Minister of Finance Yoshihiko Noda, Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Banri Kaieda, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Yoshihiro Katayama, and Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Katsuya Okada.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Kan said, "I realize that at present conditions remain harsh, including the employment situation, and I have been emphasizing the importance of employment policy for some time. A recovery of employment will lead to a break away from deflation and will contribute to economic growth as well. Regarding compilation of the budget for the next fiscal year, I will strive for this kind of 'growth from employment' budget."
In response, President Koga requested, "The public's attitude toward the administration has become severe. As a supporting organization of the DPJ administration, Rengo will lend its utmost support and play a role from now on as well. But it is necessary for the government and ruling parties to take the public's opinions seriously and with a sense of crisis and tension. The National Diet is divided and management of the administration is tough, but I hope that the government and ruling parties will establish a unified setup. In addition, as a background factor, it is also necessary for the DPJ to demonstrate its political philosophy both domestically and internationally. I hope for lively discussions, including a public dialogue."
Discussions then followed on four topics that Rengo raised with the government: (1) Rengo's priority issues for the government's fiscal 2011 budget; (2) Rengo's demands relating to the government's fiscal 2011 tax revision outline; (3) overall reform of social security; and (4) employment and labour policy.

Union Density Rate in Japan Stands at 18.5% in 2010

According to "The 2010 Report of Basic Surveys on Trade Unions" issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on December 14, the union density rate in Japan stands at 18.5% as of June 30, 2010. The rate is the same as in 2009, when it showed a slight upturn for the first time in 35 years.

The total number of members of all trade unions in the country was 10.054 million persons, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous year. The membership of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) increased by 44,000 to 6.876 million persons, and RENGO's share of total trade union membership was 68.4%. In a statement made on December 14, RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo commented that the increase in RENGO membership had been achieved through the hard work and efforts of people concerned.

The number of part-time workers belonging to unions was 726,000 persons, up by 26,000 over the previous year; the estimated organization rate for part-time workers was 5.6%. Women union members numbered 2.964 million, up by 31,000 over the previous year; the organization rate for women was 12.8%. General Secretary Nagumo noted that these increases were the result of RENGO's efforts conducted under the slogan "Let's keep fighting not only for regular workers but for all working people!"

General Secretary Nagumo emphasized RENGO's determination to continue to organize workers in local industries, small and medium-sized enterprises, and subcontracting firms, as well as nonregular workers and others, toward the early recovery of a 7-million-strong RENGO.

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