75th May Day Central Rally Held

Cooperate with NPOs/NGOs for Peace, Human Rights, Environment, Labor and Coexistence

12 May 2004
On April 29, RENGO held its 75th Central May Day Rally at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo with 36,000 people gathered in attendance. RENGO assembled together with 41 other NGOs and NPOs, who joined the rally in agreement with its themes of peace, human rights, the environment, labor, and peaceful coexistence.

On behalf of organizers, RENGO President Sasamori expressed his resolution by saying "for world peace and the future of all working people, we will create a new labor movement that adapts with the changing times."

Attendees at the ceremony also included Takashi Tanihata Vice Minister for the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Takeo Hamauzu Vice Governor of Tokyo, President Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan, and Mizuho Fukushima Leader of the Social Democratic Party, each of whom gave speeches to the people in the audience.

Photo: Representatives from trade unions and NPOs/NGOs read a joint message. Photo: Representatives from trade unions and NPOs/NGOs read a joint message.
Speaking to the participants of the rally, President Sasamori stated at the outset of his speech that he that RENGO "would like to continue working to solve problems as an advocate of those people in vulnerable positions" in consideration of the state of the social structure which has polarized between the strong and the weak. After this Sasamori then touched on six issues: employment, the Spring Struggle, the abolition of unpaid overwork, the House of Councilors election, world peace, and pension system reform.

During his speech, Sasamori spoke about problems with pension system reform in which the ruling parties steamrolled the bill the day before on April 28th, "it is truly regrettable and most disappointing that the bill was forced through without sufficient deliberation." He strongly demanded that the both ruling and opposition parties commit fully do their best to conduct real deliberations for the nation in order to establish a safe and reliable pension system.

He also showed his resolve by saying that "RENGO will build up its actions in every workplace and local area and expand the current of the movement in order to reform the social security system and it will do so by achieving RENGO's drafts."

Many guests from the government, administration and political parties could be found in attendance at the May Day Central Rally. Tanihata Vice Minister for the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare spoke on behalf of the government saying that "the various major issues which are now expected to be reformed can be achieved if a relationship of mutual trust among the government, labor and management is enhanced." Tokyo Vice Governor Hamauzu told listeners that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been continuing a concrete policy debate with RENGO Local of Tokyo and working together jointly in order to reflect policies in public administration and then he requested that RENGO as a whole "do its best to revive Japan."

President Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan speaking on the recent revelation that he was not registered in the national pension system for a certain period of time said, "I would like to express my sincerest apologies for any mistrust that might have been raised in the minds of the people." He then proceeded to explain the process by which he was not registered in the pension plan and furthermore showed his determination toward the government's pension reform bill by saying that "(the DPJ) will continue to work hard in order to scrap the current government proposal, which does not give anyone peace of mind for the future and may destroy jobs."

Social Democratic Party leader Fukushima told the audience that "we cannot allow the pension system reform bill to be railroaded. Let us blow away this bill that ignores our citizens and threatens to change the pension system for the worse."

Afterwards, the rally adopted a special resolution demanding radical reform of the pension system. Representatives from RENGO, NGO and NPO released a joint message stating that: "we hereby declare this May Day as the day on which we pledge our mutual collaboration in order to realize a better civil society," after which the May Day Declaration was adopted and the ceremony was closed with the following rousing call led by President Sasamori; "Let's fight."

After the ceremony, a special May Day event called "Live Daytime Debate" was held. Mr. Hajime Takano, a journalist, took the chair and RENGO President Sasamori, Democratic Party of Japan President Kan, Social Democratic Party Leader Fukushima served as commentators who discussed the topic of "Who made this Japan!?"

In the meantime, a collaboration of pep squads, brass bands and cheerleaders from Waseda University, the University of Tokyo, Rikkyo University, Meiji University, and Hosei University paraded around the site to pump up the mood of the May Day and widely advertising the convening of May Day to passersby.