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Press translations [Japan]. Political Series 0251, 1946-01-31.
Supreme Commander for The Allied Powers. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section.

translation-number: political-1043

call-number: DS801 .S85

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No. 1043 Date: 31 Jan 46.


ITEM 1 A Guid to Labor Unions - Yomiuri Hochi - 28 Jan 46. Translator: K. Onichi, N. Tachibana.
Full Translation:
Allow to convey to you. [illegible]y greetings. We have to apologize to you for interupting your work today and we are very much indebted to Dr. SUEHIRO for his kindness in allotting us some of his very precious time. Today’s gathering, unlike others, usually sponsored by the press intends to give to the public a very elementary knowledge of labor unions. Therefore, we ask you all to put any questions to Dr. SUEHIRO as you may think will aid in learning about labor unions. By means of the Doctor's answers, we want to assist the development of a democratic movement. You will please bear this in mind and continue with the aim of co-operating in learning about labor unions.
(SUEHIRO) Then to begin with, I will talk about Labor Union Law and labor union movements, but as I have no personal experience of participation in union movements I have hardly any knowledge of actual affairs of unions or of the ways in which unions should fight. However, the mere fact that I have studied labor laws, and especially the labor union law, for about 30 years has naturally afforded me considerable knowledge about labor unions.
Especially, in the recent drafting of the Labor Union Law, I was admitted to participate, and as far as that law is concerned, I believe I am better informed than most persons. It seems most people have still little knowledge of the law, and I shall be pleased if my talks at this meeting should be of any service in its elucidation. I propose to avoid giving a, formal lecture. I would rather talk it through first, and then get you to ask questions freely on any point. I will also do my best to answer any question without reserve of any kind. When I don't know, I will say "I don't know". If you find any doubt in my words you are free to contradict them.
I want to point cut first that although the law consists of but a few articles, it contains 2 or 3 important points. The knowledge of these points is necessary for you who take part in actual movements. The first point is in Article 1 which at first sight looks like the usual form of first articles of control laws enacted during the war, a kind of ornament to the law, something prefixed to give dignity to it; but in this particular law this is certainly not so. It has extraordinary meanings.
For example, at the beginning there is the wording "guarantee of corporative rights. What does this mean? The corporative right is clearly stimulated in the present constitution too, in the following manner." The Japanese people shall be entitled to freedom to organize a society within the scope of the law", but the freedom of forming labor societies has so for been greatly restrained by the stipulation of within the scope of law". The intent of this article is to remove all possible obstacles which hitherto existed in the way of freedom of corporative rights. Without this provision, future efforts for the free formation of societies are futile, or if formed at all

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POLITICAL SERIES: 251 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
their free activities are impossible. Consequently, for the purpose of guaranteeing corporative rights, and to remove all that hitherto obstructed the formation of societies, the following three provisions have been made.
First, to abolish all laws which have hitherto suppressed or could suppress unions. Fortunately, however, while we were contemplating the abolition, almost all of such laws were annulled by SCAP directives„ Although the laws themselves were nullified, there still remained the ordinary Criminal Law and other punitive laws. For example anyone disturbing business, and anyone disturbing another's business is liable to punishment. Penalties for assault under this law still exist, If going on strike constitutes a disturbance of business, all strikes without a single exception, as they disturb business to some extent, are liable to punishment. Nothing could be so unreasonable. That must not be so. And next, supposing the union goes to see a company's president stating that they want to bargain collectively, all of such actions, according to the provisions of the existing laws, are regarded as violations of the police regulations. If a man unreasonably forces other persons into an interview he is detained or fined. Even if the representative of a union persistently demanded an interview with the president of a company, policement would apprehend him and he would be sentenced to 29 days detention on the grounds that he "persistently demanded interviews". In the case of picketing which I mentioned just now, since other people are prevented from work, the instigator is liable to detention, if desired.
Such apparently trifling provisions in the ordinary laws still survive and obstruct the activities of labor unions. It is necessary that they be neutralized. It was for this particular purpose that Clause 2 of Article 1 was stipulated, and the clause reads as follows:
"The rules of Article 35 of the Criminal Code are applicable to collective negotiations and other acts of Labor Unions which are suitable for the achievement of the aims mentioned in the preceding clause". This paragraph is very difficult to understand, however carefully you read it, Even those who are generally acquainted with jurisprudence cannot understand it at once. This paragraph means that lawful actions Within the scope of one's business are not punishable. For example, an executioner employed by a prison is not punished for killing a criminal, because it is a lawful deed and part of his profession. Similarly, if a labor union, labor union makes collective negotiations or does other acts coming under the management of the union, the union is not punishable in accordance with the principle of Article 35 of the Criminal Code, because it is a lawful act, within the scope of the union's business. Consequently labor disputes will not be punished indiscriminately on the grounds that they interfere with business.
But you must take care, because the reckless beating up of others or destruction of articles under the pretext of labor disputes is not a lawful act within the scope of one's business, so that lawless acts may be punished as violence, destruction, or even murder, as the case may be, Only acts which naturally form part of labors disputes are permissable.
Hereafter the Penal Regulation on Police Offences will be inapplicable in the case of compulsory attendance at meetings or of picketings, because such acts fall under Clause 2, Article 1.
The second important point guaranteeing rights of federation is as follows. Formerly, employees who joined a labor union, were watched by their employer, but from now on I fear that they may be pressed by their employer more than ever, for as penal regulations are abolished, the employer must oppress his employee by his own power.
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POLITICAL SERIES: 251 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
As long as the Government was kind enough to do his oppression for him, by penal regulations the employer had only to look on, but after the abolition of oppressive legislation, the Government will not do the job for him. Consequently, the capitalist will himself oppress his employees with the aid of the laws. As far as I can see, he will take various measures for this purpose.
For example, if his employees join a labor union, he may dismiss them or will not raise their salary. That is why Article 11 of the present law provides that the employer must not take any action prejudicial to his employees Interests because they have joined a Labor Union. In the UNITED STATES and ENGLAND the employers claim damages as a counter measure, although there is no precedent for this in JAPAN. That is to easy they demand damages from the labor unions, on the grounds that their company has suffered great damages on account of their employees strike caused at the instigation of the labor union.
Even Americans are often surprised at the large sums of indemnity sometimes amounting to $200,000 or $300,000. Similar sums are claimed in ENGLAND $200,000 or $300,000 is more than 500,000 yen at the former rate of exchange, so that even very powerful labor unions would be taken aback by such claims. This is why Article 12 prohibits such demands. However, just as in the cask of penal law, this does not mean that one may do as one pleases, because there is a strike in progress. If things are destroyed or damage is caused, reparation must be made for damages as stated above, but the company cannot claim compensation on the ground that it has naturally suffered damage on account of a strike. Pressure brought to hear by the Employers through damage claims is held in check by the law. This is the second important point.
Third as regards the guarantees of federation, the new law defines the conception "worker" in a far wider sense than is generally realized here; that is to say, any salaried man is a worker as far as the law is concerned, whether at present employed or out of work, a government official, or a public official in any occupation and regardless of the importance of their rank. Therefore, in his capacity as a worker everyone earning his livelihood by receiving a salary can organize or enter a labor union. This definition is quite natural, but it is a broader definition of a worker than that so far entertained in practice by the people of JAPAN. Consequently the rights of combination are guaranteed more extensively than the people have ever thought. The above-mentioned three points are meant to guarantee the right of federation.
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HomePress translations [Japan]. Political Series 0251, 1946-01-31.
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