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2012 National Convention to Demand Return of Northern Territories
Groups demanding the return of the Northern Territories, including the Liaison Council for Movements Demanding Return of the Northern Territories, to which RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) belongs, held the National Convention to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories in Tokyo on February 7. The Convention was attended by about 1,500 people, including former islanders who lost their homes when the former Soviet Union occupied the territories in 1945, government officials, Diet members, and 160 trade union members from RENGO.
The Convention is held every year on February 7, which the Japanese government has designated as "Northern Territories Day," with the aim of deepening people's understanding of and interest in the Northern Territories issue, arousing public opinion, and realizing their early return to Japan.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said with determination, "We will continue negotiations tenaciously in order to finally solve the problem of the return of the Northern Territories and conclude a peace treaty."
RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo commented, "While cooperating with the current administration, RENGO will lobby the government and Diet members for settlement of the Northern Territories issue. At the same time, we will actively participate in the non-visa mutual exchange program, which is in its twentieth year, and strive to build an environment for territorial negotiations. Furthermore, in order to prove that Japanese lived there, we will make positive efforts toward the reconstruction and preservation of Japanese buildings [post office, etc.] remaining on Etorofu."
As part of its activities to promote peace, with the aim of realizing the early return of the Northern Territories and the conclusion of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia, RENGO, among other things, (1) participates in marches held in the metropolitan Tokyo region to demand the return of the Northern Territories with the aim of arousing public opinion, (2) holds a the RENGO Peace Rally in Nemuro, Hokkaido, and (3) takes part in the non-visa exchange program (every other year) aimed at promoting mutual understanding between Japanese and the Russians living on the islands. From now on also, RENGO will continue its efforts toward settlement of the Northern Territories issue from the standpoint of trade unions.
RENGO Holds 2012 Spring Struggle Central Rally
On February 10 RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held a central rally in Tokyo to declare the start of the 2012 Spring Struggle for a Better Life with the participation of 2,000 persons from affiliated organizations.
At the beginning, speaking on behalf of the organizers, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga stressed, "We must erase the future anxiety that is spreading through society as a whole. Correcting the distribution of profits would lead to a break away from deflation, so management's call for a freeze on the year-by-year basic wage hike [determined by length of service] is just out of the question. Investment in people should be given top priority, because that would connect to the future. The 2012 spring struggle is linked to the peace of mind and stability of Japanese society."
Next, RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo stated, "Today marks the full-fledged start of the spring struggle. Our mission is to promote efforts so that the lives of all working people are improved. We will fight with all our strength to realize a secure society centered on work as its core."
In the 2012 spring struggle, RENGO aims to improve the conditions of all workers. The participants in the rally unanimously shared such demands as (1) maintenance of the year-by-year basic wage hike determined by length of service, (2) increase of the total wage by 1%, including measures to restore decreased wages and correct disparities, and (3) improvement of the disparities suffered by nonregular workers. Once again they confirmed RENGO's position that wage hikes are necessary in order to break away from deflation. The rally ended with the unanimous adoption of a declaration on the start of the spring struggle.
Arguing for the maintenance of jobs rather than wage hikes, Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) has said that a total wage increase is out of the question and even mentioned the possibility of postponing or freezing the year-by-year basic wage hike. Management continues to show a tough stance, claiming that improving the conditions of nonregular workers would lead to a decrease of employment. Industrial labour federations and enterprise-based unions therefore expect difficult negotiations. Large companies are scheduled to give their replies to union demands around March 14.

Declaration of Start of 2012 Spring Struggle for a Better Life

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