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RENGO Holds 83rd May Day Central Rally
RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held the 83rd May Day Central Rally in Tokyo, on April 28 with the participation of 35,000 union members.
In the main event, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga delivered an address on behalf of the organizers in which he referred to the Great East Japan Earthquake and international solidarity. Regarding the former, he said, "Following the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster, we displayed the strength of unions and have engaged in relief and recovery activities. Revitalizing the regional economy and ensuring jobs are vitally important in order to rebuild the disaster area and the lives of victims." Regarding the latter, he stressed, "As well as being a festival pledging the unity of working people, May Day is also an occasion to confirm the significance of international solidarity. Concerning such matters as violation of the fundamental rights of working people, unemployment among young people, and the widening of inequalities, we will apprehend worldwide trends and implement international solidarity activities."
Speaking on behalf of the government, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda then said, "In order to protect the lives of every worker, we must face up to the wave of industrial hollowing and realize economic recovery and a break away from deflation. Japan faces a mountain of pressing issues. The government and the Democratic Party of Japan will devote our utmost efforts to formulating policies that restore the vitality of working people without forgetting the original meaning of the change in government achieved together with RENGO." Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yoko Komiyama and other political party representatives also addressed the rally.
After that, there were appeals from a nonregular worker belonging to Jichiro (All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Union) and, representing the region hit most severely by the Great East Japan Earthquake, from RENGO's Tohoku Bloc concerning the disaster.
The main event of the central rally ended with RENGO General Secretary Hiroyuki Nagumo announcing adoption of the May Day declaration and leading three chants of "In unison, let's do our best!"
In parallel with the central rally's main event, RENGO's Center for Nonregular Workers held a roundtable discussion between job-seeking students and union members. Focusing on the meaning of work and reality, discussions were aimed at easing the doubts and concerns of young people. RENGO intends to reflect the issues concerning the employment of young people that arose in the discussions in its policies from now on.
RENGO also organized a "union carnival" at the May Day rally venue. The activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) were introduced, and the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF) operated a booth as well in order to publicize the importance of its efforts to as many union members as possible. The panel displays at JILAF's booth introduced its program to invited trade union leaders from developing countries to Japan; its field projects, including the holding of seminars in response to the needs of the country concerned and support for informal workers; and its efforts to eradicate child labour.
On the same day RENGO held May Day events at 554 places in 26 prefectures nationwide with the total participation of about 900,000 people.
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