Joseph Hansen

Japanese Labor Shows the Way

(29 June 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 26, 29 June 1946, p. 8.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2021 by Einde O’Callaghan.
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Japanese labor is surging forward. In a powerful struggle for higher wages and better conditions, the Japanese workers are utilizing one of the most effective weapons in the arsenal of the international labor movement – workers’ control of industry.

How this weapon operates has been dramatically illustrated in the Tokyo chemical plant of the Mitsubishis, Last spring the workers demanded a wage boost of 300 per cent. Despite the skyrocketing cost of living, the owners refused. On March 1 the workers informed the management that until it came to terms they were setting up control over the plant.

As their first act, the workers ordered the wage increase of 300 percent put into effect. Then they continued operating the plant as previously.

For three months the owners have not shown up, yet the plant continues to produce with perfect efficiency. There has been no violence, no trouble, no squabbles. The workers pay themselves their own wages and whatever is left in the form of profits is banked to the credit of the company.

Should prices continue to skyrocket, these workers will undoubtedly automatically increase their wages at the expense of profits in order to maintain their standard of living.

The Japanese puppet government, kept in office by MacArthur and his occupation troops, is opposed to workers’ control. But so far this government has not been able to stop the spread of this powerful means of struggle against the capitalists. MacArthur, in carrying out Wall Street’s aim of maintaining the capitalist system in Japan, will undoubtedly do his utmost to force the workers back into the straitjacket in which they were bound before the war. If American troops were withdrawn, the Japanese workers would be free to continue along the road to socialism.

The capitalist press calls workers’ control in Japan a “new and unorthodox labor weapon,” However, this is a falsehood. The Bolsheviks in the days, of Lenin and Trotsky advocated workers’ control in Russia before the October 1917 revolution. And within a month after the successful workers’ uprising, the Bolsheviks proclaimed workers’ control on a national scale.

The Bolsheviks viewed workers’ control as a step toward full management of industry by the workers and the ending of boss rule. The Bolsheviks not only inspired and organized committees to operate workers’ control in individual plants, but they coordinated these committees on a city, regional and nationwide scale.

In a few plants in Russia the management proved cooperative and greatly facilitated a peaceful change-over from the capitalist set up. In most plants, however, the management resorted to sabotage in a desperate attempt to halt workers’ control. The answer of the workers in such cases was swift expropriation and the filing of charges against the saboteurs before peoples’ courts.


Last updated on: 18 June 2021