Special Invitation Team

The Special Invitation Team visited Japan from November 17 (Sunday) to 24 (Sunday) 2019.

Photo with JILAF directors after the opening ceremony

Three people (all women) participated from Germany and the United Kingdom, completing all the scheduled programs as planned.

The participants had long experiences in their national centers and, before their arrival in Japan, had made purposeful preparations on the theme of the international symposium held during their stay, namely, “The Future of Labour Contracts and Protection of Workers’ Rights.” They asked many questions and approached issues with a positive attitude.

Prior to their arrival in Japan, a UK participant requested a sharing of information on the labour-related impact, in connection with Brexit, of Japan-UK and Japan-EU economic partnership agreements. A visit to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (Trade Policy Bureau) and, before that, a lecture by the Department of Economic and Social Policy of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) were therefore added to the itinerary.

In their visit to RENGO, the participants heard from Division of International Policy Director Akihito Katayama about the role of RENGO and related issues and from Division of Economic and Social Policy Director Yuichi Haruta, ahead of their visit to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry in the afternoon, about RENGO’s stance regarding labour clauses in economic partnership agreements.

In their visit to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, the participants engaged in discussions with staff of the Europe Division and the Economic Partnership Division in the Trade Policy Bureau about the Japan-UK and Japan-EU economic partnership agreements and labour matters in general therein.

In a lecture by the Japan Productivity Center, Senior Researcher Yasuhiro Kiuchi spoke about the productivity movement in Japan and also the current state and issues of labour productivity in Japan from an international perspective.

In a lecture by Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the participants heard from Mr. Go Harada about constructive industrial relations in Japan as seen by the management side. This talk was a kind of supplement to the lecture given on the first day by JILAF Executive Director Masayuki Shiota titled “The Role of the Labour Movement in Japan and Issues.”

In their visit to an industrial trade union federation, the participants visited the Japan Community Union Federation, where they heard about the background to the formation of a trade union by deliverers of Uber Eats, a typical platform business, thereby enhancing their groundwork for the international symposium.

As their visit to an affiliated trade union and workplace, the participants went to the Fuji Amide Chemical branch of the Tokyo Union. Here, through the actual conditions of a trade union at a relatively small company, they were able to witness a good example of Japanese-style constructive industrial relations.

At the international symposium, presentations and discussions took place among the attendants, who included Prettl Japan K.K. President Jens Christian Zajdel, who was introduced by the German Embassy in Japan as a representative of German management, and Director Hajime Urushihara of RENGO’s Labour Legislation Division.

This international symposium really did make use of the international labour network. As well as the cooperation of the German Embassy in Japan following a request by Germany’s national center, preliminary information exchange was held, with the cooperation of RENGO, with First Secretary Yusuke Ishihara, currently on dispatch to the Japanese Embassy in the United Kingdom (from the Hitachi Labour Union). In addition, four participants in this fiscal year’s global training and Dr. Joey Soehardjojo of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Institute of Developing Economies of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) attended some lectures as observers.

The participants compiled the following action plans:
---“I thought the setup based on single trade unions and the annual spring labour struggle were extremely interesting. Each country has its own characteristics, so changing their industrial relations would not be easy. But there are common problems, and international collaboration is necessary to address them. I want us to get stronger together.” (Germany)
---“The organization of tertiary-sector workers is not making much progress in the United Kingdom either. I want us to share information about this common problem.” (UK)

FY 2019 International Symposium


List of Cooperating Organizations

Ministry of Economy, Trade, and IndustryJapan Productivity Center
Nippon KeidanrenJapan Community Union Federation
Fuji Amide Chemical Branch of Tokyo UnionFuji Amide Chemical Co., Ltd.
Embassy of Germany in JapanPrettl Japan K.K.

Many thanks to everyone.

Photos of the Participants

Visit to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry

Visit to the Japan Community Union Federation

With outside observers at the lecture of “The Role of the Labour Movement in Japan and Issues”