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The Militant, 21 September 1946

Larissa Reed

Nationwide Strike in Japan
Against Puppet Government

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 38, 21 September 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A tremendous upsurge of the Japanese labor movement Involving almost 1,000,000 workers – one-third of the organized labor force – began on Sept. 10 in Tokyo with a general strike of the All-Japan Seamen’s Union. This was followed in a few days by a strike of 556,000 men

in the Japanese CIO and 330,000 organized farm hands in the All-Japan Agricultural Union.

This powerful strike wave is taking place in the face of a dictatorial decree issued by General MacArthur two weeks ago, backed up by the puppet government, prohibiting “strikes, walkouts or other work stoppages.”

The Hitler-like decree and MacArthur’s threat to use occupation troops as strikebreakers served to smash a three-day strike of seamen at Sasebo.

This week, according to union reports, 3,899 ships are tied up, virtually paralyzing the Japanese merchant marine. Sympathy strikes of the Japan Port Workers Union and Japan Coastal Shipping Union added 60,000 strikers to the 54,000 merchant seamen who walked off the ships. Japanese crews of eight Liberty ships, due to return to the U.S., joined the walkout, and crews of six others are preparing to do the same.

Seamen’s Demands

The Japanese seamen’s union is demanding a 100 per cent wage increase. Even more important, they are determined to prevent the government from carrying out its threat to dismiss 80 per cent of the seamen, without consultation with the union.

The union states that these mass dismissals are not only unnecessary but, according to the Sept. 12 Christian Science Monitor, “may actually be a government effort to stunt the growth of the labor movement under the pretext of economic necessity.”

The seamen’s strike spread because the Japanese trade union movement is determined to defeat attempts of the American imperialists and their Japanese puppet government to crush their organized strength and drive the workers back to semi-feudal servitude.

The Japanese Congress of Industrial Unions (equivalent of the American CIO) ordered all its major industrial affiliates to go on strike and stay out until “the reactionary government of Premier Yoshida collapses.”

The CIO strike call was issued to coal miners, steel and chemical workers, printers, machinery and electricalworkers and others. The strike of the unionized farm hands followed close on the heels of the CIO strike call, after failure of the union to reach agreements on collective bargaining rights and wage increases with the representatives of the big landed proprietors.

The Japanese CIO has 1,600,000 members, including 600,000 railway workers. The General Federation of Government Railway Workers also issued a strike call, after the government threatened to dismiss 75,000 railway employees for reasons of “economy,” the same pretext used in the threatened mass layoffs of seamen.

Accuse Government

The railway union accused the government of being concerned only with meeting interest payments on wartime bonds at the expense of the workers. These payments go to the same Japanese capitalist profiteers who dragooned the workers into their imperialist war, and who are now protected by MacArthur. The union prepared to strike as a protest against victimizing, the workers for “deficits” which were made “for the purpose of waging war.”

The government retreated in the face of this strike threat and the Transport Ministry rescinded the dismissal order. The railway union is reported to be operating under a temporary truce.

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Last updated on 28 June 2021