It is with immense sorrow that JILAF announces the death of Mr. Etsuya Washio, former president of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation). Mr. Washio passed away on February 26, 2012, at the age of 73.
Mr. Washio was elected as the second general secretary of RENGO in 1993 and then as the third president of RENGO in November 1997. At the RENGO Convention held in 1997, at which Mr. Washio was elected president, RENGO declared its new slogan to be "strength and action." During his leadership of RENGO, Mr. Washio resolutely developed "action" and made vigorous challenges from the viewpoint of improving people's lives and expanding workers' rights in the midst of the rapid advance of globalization, the long-term economic recession and financial crisis following the collapse of the bubble economy, and structural reform policies adopted by the governments of the time aimed at deregulating the Labour Standards Law, the Worker Dispatch Law, and other related legislation.
In 1999 Mr. Washio made an all-out effort to revise RENGO's political policy so as to broadly bring together political forces based on the working people and citizens on the axis of the Democratic Party of Japan with a view to establishing a two-party system enabling a change of power.
Mr. Washio also contributed to the international trade union movement as vice-president of the former International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and vice-president of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD-TUAC). It is also remembered that he played a great role in promoting workers' independent welfare activities.
Moreover, on the occasion of RENGO's tenth anniversary in October 2001, Mr. Washio announced a "welfare-type society centered on work" as the social image that the RENGO movement should pursue. Ten years later, in 2010, this vision was upgraded to a "secure society built around work as its core," and today RENGO is promoting its movement in accordance with this spirit.
May his soul rest in peace.