On April 29th, RENGO held its 77th May Day Central Rally at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, with 43,754 people in attendance. The Central Rally was composed of three parts, including "the Central Rally Ceremony," a "Contact Fair," and a "Spirited Demonstration." The NPO and NGO participating in May Day came up with various plans to turn the Contact Fair into a true 'recreation area' where general citizens could also participate.
At the Central Rally Ceremony, RENGO President Takagi broached such topics as "[Japan’s] Society of Disparity," "Confronting the burden-increase/benefit-decrease line," and the "Spring Struggle." He pointed out that there is a rising concern over the coming society of disparity and stated with determination that "in order to break out of a reductive position on this society of disparity we will proactively do whatever we can to work together with everyone to move away from a Japan of worry and mistrust to a Japan that is safe, secure, and reliable." Takagi also criticized the Koizumi administration for continuing to tow the line by increasing burdens, decreasing benefits, and targeting salaried workers. He forcefully emphasized his position on these issues stating that "if the Koizumi administration is going to try to force absurd, unreasonable policies on us, then we are resolute in our struggle against them."
Many guests of honor attended the Central Rally Ceremony from the central government, Tokyo metropolitan government, and political parties. Representing the central government, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Kawasaki said "Although we have a plenty of problems that need to be solved, these various issues will be resolved through relationship of mutual trust among the government, labor, and management." Tokyo Metropolitan Government Vice Governor Sekiya addressed the audience saying that "we expect RENGO to pass on the opinions from the workplace as to what a new Tokyo, a new Japan should look like based on the worker’s point of view." Representing their political parties, Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa and Social Democratic Party Leader Fukushima each offered speeches in solidarity. DPJ President Ozawa said that "The Democratic Party of Japan with one voice will turn your ideas into political reality. Together with you, we will achieve true structural reform through a change of administration and transform Japan. Let us rebuild Japan."
Afterwards, there was a joint message from RENGO/NGO/NPO, a Special Resolution, the May Day Declaration was adopted and received with unanimous applause, and finally May Day Ceremony closed with a strong three-part cheer led by RENGO Deputy President Morikoshi.
Following the ceremony, they conducted the "Part-time/Contract Workers Rally: Honest Talk: Let's Make a Society with No Disparity!'" This rally was an opportunity for the audience to gain an understanding of the conditions that workers must face who find themselves under such unstable employment patterns as part-time and contract-based work; it also helps us to consider what people can do to eliminate differentials from each other's positions. RENGO Assistant General Secretary Yoko Yamaguchi moderated discussions in her capacity as coordinator with the following participants: RENGO President Tsuyoshi Takagi, attorney Mami Nakano, Japan Federation of Service and Distributive Workers Unions, Consumer Cooperative Sapporo Trade Union Central Executive Committee Vice Chair and Part-time Workers Division Chief Katsue Taga, and ZENKOKU UNION (Japan Community Workers Union Federation) President Momoyo Kamo. RENGO President Takagi called on the audience saying "we want to redress the absurdity and irrationality. We need you to join the trade union to combine our forces together."
May Day Declaration
Today, we open the 77th May Day Central Rally with the theme "Take Back 'Security and Safety' for Work and Life Now."
Recently, we are seeing a variety of growing gaps in labor due to differences by region, industry, scale of enterprise, and employment type. Currently, one out of five households earns less than 2 million yen a year. Also the number of households with zero savings rate and households on welfare is increasing, which raises concerns over an expansion and immobilization of the low income group.
Moreover, we are seeing a loss of faith and trust in our society in a variety of topics such as food safety which has occurred over BSE issues, the safety of buildings due to phony designs, and child safety in local regions.
In order to create society where people can live with ease, we strongly demand that [Japan’s] society of disparity be correct along with establishing safety measures in every area.
Looking outside the nation we see that conditions threatening peace are continuing globally such as sub-critical nuclear experiments, nuclear development in Iran and North Korea, opaque conditions in Iraq; even our national security is being shaken by the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. For the sake of abolition of nuclear weapons and world peace this is a situation that must not be ignored.
May Day is a day for international solidarity. The ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions), affiliating the world's national centers, is calling for trade unions throughout the world to stand up to eliminate poverty and starvation, discrimination and suppression, conflict and terrorism, as well as to urge governments and managements to respect workers' rights.
In order to take back secure and safe society, we now must respond to the ICFTU’s demands and develop activities to switch to the offensive.
Using this Central Rally as our opportunity, we will work for "peace, human rights, labor, environment, live-together in harmony" in coordination with NPO and NGO as well as in solidarity with workers. We hereby declare this to build a labor-based welfare society and free, peaceful world!
Long Live the 77th May Day!
April 29, 2006
77th May Day Central Rally
Special Resolution Demanding the Withdrawal of 'Tax Increases Targeting Salaried Workers'
And Tax System Reform from the Workers' Viewpoint
We have developed actions in the workplaces and at localities across Japan in order to take a firm stand against the central government's tax increase that targets corporate employees. However, the government and ruling parties are not listening to our strong shouts of protest and have decided to phase out the fixed-rate income tax and resident tax cut.
Abolition of the fixed-rate tax cut is nothing short of a 'tax increase for salaried workers' which will influence those workers the most. The ruling parties have reneged on their promise "not to increase taxes for corporate workers" which they made at the last nationwide general election. We are firmly against this.
From now on, the government plans to compile tax-related crucial policies one after the other such as annual expenditure and revenue reform and a midterm policy report by the government's Tax Commission. During that time, we are at high risk of facing a government-proposed tax increase plan that targets salaried workers including reducing deductions for earned income; and all the while the government claims reducing fiscal deficit is its priority.
We do not deny that real burdens are necessary if a truly secure welfare society is to be realized. However, the government and ruling parties' method of imposing more burdens on workers is unacceptable by any standard in that even within the current tax system there are inequalities.
The government must conduct "true tax system reform" to restore the redistribution of income, not propose easy tax hikes. Moreover, the government should thoroughly change its wasteful usage of tax money and in addition, convert budget structure and policies to bring about a "safe and fair society."
The crucial period for discussing tax system reform lies ahead. In order to make a tax system that is based on the workers' point of view, let us combine the workers' strength by taking this May Day as our opportunity and appeal widely to the nation and public opinion, and expand the wave of action!
We resolve this herewith.
April 29, 2006
77th May Day Central Rally
RENGO/NGO/NPO Joint Message
We are RENGO.
We protect jobs and the rights of workers, and we aim to improve labor conditions and realize a safe and secure civil society.
We are members of NGO/ NPO.
We conduct activities to emphasize respect for peace, the establishment of human rights, abolition of poverty, and the importance of global environment to make these things a reality.
As global citizens, we join hands with our friends across the world to learn and conduct activities together.
We sow the seeds so each of our societies will grow in a better environment and let them blossom.
We share the pain and suffering brought by war and poverty, feel joy in the development of civil society, and peace as if it were our own.
We declare today, May Day April 29, is our day to take back 'security and safety for work and life' and 'bloom and joy together,' and continue our activities.
April 29, 2006
77th May Day Central Rally