RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held the 86th May Day Central Rally in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, on April 29 with the participation of about 40,000 union members.
Addressing the participants on behalf of the organizer, RENGO President Nobuaki Koga sent a message to all trade union members nationwide, saying, "In May deliberations will reach a crucial point on revision of the Worker Dispatch Act, which will give impetus to the use of dispatch workers by companies, and revision of the Labour Standards Act, which will widen the scope of exemption from the eight-hours-a-day rule. I call on everyone to stand up and act for the sake of all workers."
Next, Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Edano, attending in place of DPJ President Katsuya Okada, who is undergoing medical treatment, said with determination, "We will make every effort to press for the abandonment of this third revision for the worse of the Worker Dispatch Act."
Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yasuhisa Shiozaki also delivered an address on behalf of the government. While he was speaking, however, calls for his resignation could be heard from demonstrators behind the stage. Shiozaki has been heavily criticized for his remarks at a meeting with a business organization on April 20. Regarding revision of the Labour Standards Act to widen the scope of workers exempted from the eight-hours-a-day rule (the so-called zero-overtime system), it has been revealed that in talks with employers attending the meeting Shiozaki said, "First of all let's just get the amendment passed" and "Please be patient for a while." Shiozaki suggested that the zero-overtime system could be established with strict limitations on its application at first and then those limitations could be relaxed later.
Emi Saito of the KDDI Workers' Union then spoke on behalf of nonregular workers. In this year's spring struggle the KDDI Workers' Union gained a wage hike of 4,800 yen for nonregular workers, which was higher than that for regular workers. Saito said, "It is important to take the initiative yourselves in order to realize a society in which people can work with peace of mind. Let's do our best together!"
There was also an appeal to participants for donations to a relief fund, operated jointly with JILAF, for the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25. Finally, the participants approved the May Day Declaration and closed the rally with three "Let's do our best together!" chants.
At the May Day venue the activities of member organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations were also introduced. JILAF organized a booth as well, introducing its projects and also appealing for support for the earthquake disaster in Nepal. Many participants cooperated in the fundraising drive.