JILAF invited a team from English- and French-speaking countries in Africa to visit Japan from November 9 to 22, 2014. The 11 participants came from seven organizations in six countries (Algeria, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia). Since the Ebola virus was spreading, especially in West Africa, precautions were taken so that no untoward incident occurred during the program.
The participants listened to the lectures with much enthusiasm, and they raised many questions and opinions not only at the lectures but at places visited as well. In addition, the participants commented that it had been extremely useful for them, through the two-week program, to be able to engage in exchange and mutual understanding with other participants from countries that they had had no previous exchange with, even though these countries are situated on the same continent.
In the labour-related lectures, the participants showed a lot of interest in efforts to tackle the low organization rate, the participation of nonregular workers, and organization expansion, which are issues in their own countries as well. In the industrial federation visit, they heard a lecture from Food Rengo (Federation of All Japan Foods and Tobacco Workers’ Unions) on the activities and issues of an industrial federation. The participants all agreed with the industrial federation’s approach of strengthening the movement so that issues do not become buried at the company level, and they renewed their determination to develop activities more positively back home.
In the regional program, the participants visited RENGO Kumamoto, where, through discussions with RENGO Kumamoto officials, they were able to deepen their understanding of the role and activities of regional branches of RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation). At the Kumamoto Prefectural Government Office, they were also able to have frank discussions with Kumamoto Prefecture Vice-Governor Taisuke Ono, who kindly set aside more than the scheduled time for the visit. Furthermore, the participants visited a Hello Work employment office, where they showed a lot of interest in the method of ensuring financial resources to cover unemployment insurance and the vocational training system amid such problems as the low birthrate, population aging, and economic stagnation. In the workplace visit, they went to the Kumamoto Factory of Iseki & Co., Ltd., where they engaged in discussions on such issues as efforts to improve the workplace environment in the plant and the securing of jobs for young workers.