Confrontation with the Doro-Kakumaru and Independence of the District Chiba
The District Chiba had to go through a course of struggle to overcome the influence of the Doro-Kakumaru and to establish itself as an independent labor union. We call this “a struggle of separation and independence”. In March 30, 1979 the District Chiba of the Doro changed into the Doro-Chiba, National Railways Motive Power Union of Chiba. I am now going to talk about the history and lessons of the severe confrontation with the Kakumaru within the union organization of the Doro, which developed into a struggle to the separation from and independence of , the Doro.
The confrontation with the Kakumaru began in 1968, when colleague Takiguchi, chief of the youth section of the Local Shin-Koiwa of the District Chiba was dismissed with undue reasons. The management charged him with drinking on duty and other trifle matters. It was evidently a framed-up case of union busting.
The youth section of the District Chiba suffered a terrible blow. The Local Shin-Koiwa was a central bastion of our youth section with 200 members. The management made a lesson of him by firing him in this way. It inevitably worked severely on the fellow workers. The Kakumaru who controlled the youth section of the District Tokyo of the Doro at that time, opposed to the struggle for the withdrawal of the dismissal of colleague Takiguchi. It gave naturally a rise to resentment among the union activists in Chiba: “We don’t forgive those people in Tokyo”. This was a beginning of the confrontation with the Kakumaru.
During the AMPO-Okinawa struggle of 1970, the youth section members of the District Chiba experienced two years of suffering: at each union meetings and mass actions in Tokyo, ordered by the union executive, the young unionists of the Doro District Chiba were always terrorized and lynched by the Kakumaru. I clearly remember still today to have told the youth section members to attend those occasions with bellybands against physical violence. We of the youth section were firmly determined to continue union activities to the end even under Kakumaru’s terrorism, fully “armed” with a bellyband strengthened with thick paper in it.
Just at that time, the management’s offensive of the Productivity Movement was reaching at its peak and union busting was raging in workshop. On the other hand, the Kakumaru attacked us by terror and lynching during the union activities. It was quite natural for the members of the youth section of the District Chiba to be disgusted with union activities when such situation continued: “What is this labor union for? They beat us up with all kinds of excuses instead of fighting against the management! I see no reason to remain in this union”. This was exactly what the Kakumaru intended.
To cope with this situation, the enlarged standing committee of the youth section of the District Chiba decided in 1972, not to participate union activities of the Doro unless clarification of the matter and self-criticism by the offenders were presented.
In September 1972, the National Executive responded to our demand with an Organization Directive No.16. It denied all its knowledge of and its responsibilities for, what was actually happening. It demanded, in stead, the youth section of the District Chiba to attend meetings and actions of the union. Its position was: the youth section of the District Chiba was to blame, not the Kakumaru. This directive was apparently written one-sidedly upon hearing the matter only from the members of the youth section of the headquarters who practiced terror and lynch on us in every occasion. The youth section of the headquarters was under a complete control of the Kakumaru.
In March 1973, a railway accident happened in Funabashi, Chiba prefecture. We organized a struggle to tackle with the accident, a struggle against railway rationalization, a struggle for rail safety. The Kakumaru opposed to wage a struggle against the accident. There was a wide spread opinion among the Doro that workers concerned were responsible for accidents and that railway accidents made no subject of the labor movement. According to this view what the labor union can do in case of accident was only to rescue the workers concerned. Contrary to this policy, the District Chiba had been fighting struggle on railway accidents with a claim that struggle against railway accident was a vital problem of the labor movement. This stand squarely opposed to the policy of the National Executive of the Doro, who attacked us for this.
To give a detailed fact, a national meeting of operation crew held by the leadership of the Doro decided to collect signature from all union members of drivers to support the struggle in Chiba. But the District Tokyo alone refused to follow this decision and neglected to collect signature for the concerned driver, colleague Takaishi. It was exactly in the midst of the struggle to win the trial of colleague Takaishi who was prosecuted for the accident.
Meanwhile in January 1973, six leading members of our youth section were suspended their rights of union activities for indefinite term for boycotting the union meetings. The National Executive of the Doro set up an inquiry commission for them. The then executive committee of the District Chiba accepted this as decision of the National Executive Committee. In an extraordinary union meeting of the District Chiba to discuss the issue, a resolution was passed by overwhelming majority to demand withdrawal of the disciplinary measure against the six leaders of the youth section.
As the chief of the Local Chiba I witnessed about 90% delegates of the meeting voting for the resolution. On the news of the rejection of the NEC’s policy, the Secretary General of the NEC came to Chiba to intimidate us, but we flatly refused his intervention. Our indignation was quite simple and natural: “This disciplinary measure is unreasonable indeed. Why should the victims of violence be punished and the executors of violence be exempted from responsibility? It is totally unjustified.”
Since the proposition of the executives of the District Chiba at that time to accept the union decision was voted down, they resigned en masse. The National Executive of the Doro threatened with possible demand of re-registration of all members to the union if the District Chiba continued to refuse the union policy. The District Chiba held extraordinary union meetings for four times without results until finally the annual union convention took place in September 1973.
The annual convention of the District Chiba elected a new leadership with President Sekikawa and Chief Secretary Nakano. I had been regarded as a leader of the youth section of the District Chiba by the Doro National Executive and Kakumaru. Now as a full time chief secretary of the District Chiba I was to confront directly with them.
When I ran for the position of chief secretary, there were no candidates for president, vice-president or executive committee members. I was the only candidate for the union election. Nobody dared to work together in the union office with me, Nakano, a well-known radical, the most dangerous union activist within the Doro. There was no powerful candidate that could defeat Nakano. Then colleague Sekikawa, a senior union officer, was courageous enough to accept the position of the union president and finally a new leadership was established. Thus we prevented the union congress to end fruitless. The Sekikawa-Nakano regime of the District Chiba started. It brought about a structural change of the relations with the Kakumaru: the problem is no more “the youth section issue”. Now an antagonism between the District Chiba and the Doro National Executive, an antagonism between the District Chiba and the Kakumaru came into a central issue.
I’d like to call your attention to the date of March 1973. It was a time of intensifying labor offensive: The struggle against the Productivity Movement was developing for a victory and the annual spring labor offensive was squarely tackling serious problems raised by the depression after the “oil shock”. Young workers were fighting at the forefront of various labor unions with their valuable experiences in the AMPO/Okinawa struggle in 1970. Just at that time, a passengers’ riot broke out in Ageo, Saitama prefecture on the outskirt of Tokyo during the annual spring labor offensive in March 1973. It soon developed into the whole Tokyo area, producing a series of metropolitan passengers’ riots.
These riots left various consequences: a part of the ruling class spoke out for conditional granting of the right to strike to the public sector employees. On the other hand, some of the labor union leaders were totally shocked by the Ageo riot and began insisting, “It might be any more possible to wage work-to-rule”. The most typical of them was MATSUZAKI Akira, the then president of the District Tokyo of the Doro.
Matsuzaki proposed to abandon fighting work-to-rule in the union convention the next year, 1974. At the same time, he began to urge negotiation with the management on the issue of rationalization. It corresponded to the management policy of “normalizing the labor-management relations”. For the JNR management it was crucial to restore labor-management relations that had been torn apart through the dispute caused by the Productivity Movement. The policy of “normalization of labor-management relations’ means to come to be in friendly terms with the labor unions and to make them conciliatory as a whole. It was the top policy of the JNR management. The District Tokyo of the Doro under Matsuzaki’s leadership passed a resolution on its convention to endorse this management’s policy.
Simultaneously with the Ageo riot, the Kakumaru began propagandizing “state power’s plot” in various occasions. For example, according to the Kakumaru, the Sanrizuka struggle of farmers against the airport construction must have been carried on by the secret hands of the state power, that is, “state power’s plot”. Accordingly the Sanrizuka-Shibayama Opposition League against Airport Construction must be an agent organization of the state power. This demagogic propaganda would be fully developed in 1970’s. The Ageo riot motivated the Kakumaru to develop this absurd policy. In fact, it posed us a serious problem of class struggle: a work-to-rule of the national railway workers provoked a passengers’ riot. Most of the passengers were evidently workers whose anger exploded in a riot. The problem was who would gain the heart of the angry workers as passengers, the state power or labor union as representatives of the working class. We faced then a watershed.
In a period from the end of 1973 to the beginning of 1974, the District Sapporo of the Doro presented an organizational problem. The union convention of the Doro held in Izumo in 1973 decided to run a union officer as a candidate nominated by the Socialist Party for the upper house election. His name was MEGURO Kesajiro and was the president of the Doro. For electoral fund, it was also decided to collect money from unionists for two years with 500 yen at each bonus time, 2000 yen in all. The District Sapporo of the Doro under influence of the Communist Party, however, refused to collect electoral fund. It reasoning was: “There are Socialist Party supporters as well as Communist Party supporters among unionists. They have all freedom of supporting a political party according to their own will. To force them to support a definite party is unjust”. The “freedom of supporting a certain political party” was the only insistence of the JCP in every meeting and convention of labor union. This insistence is based on a logic totally neglecting class-orientation and class-unity of the working class. To put it simply, it leads to recognition of voting for the Liberal Democratic Party in the name of “freedom of supporting political parties”. When some of our fellow workers insist upon supporting the LDP, we don’t hesitate to discuss with them, saying, “You know, the LDP is a party of capitalists”. The CP, on the contrary, admits this for “freedom of supporting political parties” and “freedom of thought and belief”. From the viewpoint of unity of labor union, it is a reactionary stand.
Anyway, the District Sapporo under JCP’s influence opposed to this electoral fund raising. The National Executive of the Doro immediately convened an extraordinary union meeting in Tokyo in December and took a disciplinary measure against the District Sapporo, freezing its union activities. The union officers of the Doro flew to Sapporo in previously reserved seats and set out to persuaded the District Sapporo unionists vigorously in the cold weather of snowing Sapporo. These forcible measures resulted finally in an organizational split of the District Sapporo: 1800 out of total 4000 union members remained in the Doro while 2000 unionists joined a new union named Zendoro later in 1974.
On that occasion, we were also sent to Sapporo by the union order to persuade the District Sapporo. Fellow unionists told us, “It'll be you of Chiba that will be hit the next time”. I answered them, saying, “Don’t worry. The problem with us is not freedom of supporting political parties or fund raising of 500 yen etc. When we have to fight against the Doro National Executive, we'll rise up in a body with all the power of the District Chiba”.
I'd like to come back to the previous theme. As I have told you, the problem now was no more youth section problem but the District Chiba problem. It was reputed, “The District Chiba is the root of all evils. It is the bad apple of the Doro”.
In March 1973 the 31 Extraordinary Convention of the Doro was held in the Japan Youth Hall in Tokyo. The official agenda of the convention was to prepare for a general mobilization to the spring labor offensive. But the true intention of the executive of the Doro was to break up the District Chiba through a decision of the convention to demand all the union members of the District Chiba re-registration to the Doro. We read all this and attended the convention, determined to settle the matter for the moment.
I took the floor and promised as chief secretary of the District Chiba that from now on the youth section of the District Chiba would attend union meetings. My speech got jeering and heckling. Kakumaru occupied the chairmanship and it was very difficult to have our say in the meeting though there were 8 delegates from the District Chiba. As I had been confirmed beforehand as representative of the District Chiba, the chair was obliged to give me the floor. I called up my courage to deliver a 30 minutes’ speech. Matsuzaki was seated just in front of me and kept shouting, “Shut up! Unpardonable”. The delegates of Chiba and Tokyo sat in adjoining seats in the convention hall. Before I completed my speech, my microphone went silent; somebody cut off the power.
There were at that moment about 400 or 500 union members of the District Chiba in the convention hall. All unionists of the District Chiba from 18 year old to 55 year old, excepting those on duty, were present there. I told them, “Go and see with your own eyes what is now happening in the Doro. You are to decide who has right”. They filled the observers’ seats on the second floor. When I grabbed a microphone, Kakumaru’s members began shouting at me. The observers from Chiba naturally shouted back vigorously. Thus the hall was filled with shouts and my speech was hardly audible. Outside the meeting hall, however, one could distinctly hear my speech through a loudspeaker. Interested delegates left the hall to listen to my speech.
I thoroughly criticized the terror and lynching on us by the Kakumaru on occasion of meetings and other activities of the union and declared that notwithstanding our youth section would not fail to attend organizationally all kind of union activities. Matsuzaki and other Kakumarus got furious at this statement. “Stop kidding! Don’t think you can get away with it”, he yelled at me just in my face.
Unlike usual habit, a part of the convention proceedings regarding my speech was hastily made on the same evening. One of the stenographers came to me immediately after the session and asked me to help reproduce my speech often inaudible by shouts. I wondered why they were so hasty in making the proceedings and asked her (the stenographer) if she could easily do it after the convention. “The executive committee urges me to have only your speech reproduced immediately” was the answer I got from her. I realized instantly that they were eager to find out in my speech some words against union discipline, which could be used as a tool to beat me. Contrary to their expectation, there was not a single word in my speech that could violate union discipline. I was clever enough to choose wording carefully. Thus we won in the convention.
It was really interesting how Matsuzaki reacted on me. Being a big boss, he usually needs not ask for the floor in the meeting. Upon my speech, however, he furiously raised his hand asking for comments and said, “I read in newspaper that the delegate Nakano was searched by police at home for an act of violence. I have done nothing criminal like he”. It is true the police had raided my house for reason of violent confrontations with the Kakumaru. The Press reported that iron pipes were confiscated in my house that was a JNR’s housing. But you know it is quite natural those items like iron pipes, tools for railway reparation be found there, a housing of national railway workers. Matsuzaki got a bad reputation for his speech. Even some one of the Mindo criticized him, saying, “He should not have spoken that way. Didn’t he know it was a matter of the state power repression?” He hit the mark. Matsuzaki’s stance is not to fight against the state power. On the contrary he promised the state power not to commit anything wrong. He tried to dissociate himself from the District Chiba.
At the end of March, immediately after the convention, there was a mass rally for spring labor offensive sponsored by the youth section of the Sohyo with tens of thousand of young workers participating from all over Japan. It was attended by various political tendencies, each wearing helmets of different colors like red, blue, or white and so on. The youth section of the District Chiba participated in it together with the senior unionists. It was the first appearance for us after the convention on a public scene. A violent collision occurred between the youth section of the Doro and the Young Socialists-Liberation Faction. It was apparent the youth section of the Doro that provoked a skirmish by surrounding and teasing the opponents. The Liberation Faction was finally driven into hitting back, throwing glass bottles of cola against the attackers. We witnessed it all. I made our unionists write a report on it, which I presented to the executive of the Doro with a criticizing comment, “Is it admitted for the youth section of the Doro to commit such an act in an official union rally?” We obtained no answer from the national headquarters, which certainly held intensifying hatred toward us.
Thus we have succeeded in putting an end, for the time being, to the first trial of the Doro National Executive to beat the District Chiba. Nevertheless the Doro never gave up its intention to disband the District Chiba and they were preparing all sorts of nasty tricks against us.
The next issue was around helmets. In those days helmets used to be symbols of each political tendencies. White helmets stood for the Chukaku faction, those with red tapes for the Kakumaru, blue helmets for the Liberation Faction, red helmets for the Communist League, green for another and so on.
The District Chiba was the first to wear helmets on the scene of struggle. Please look at this helmet. This helmet is the one that the then chief of the youth section fetched from the headquarters of the Doro on the occasion of the Sanrizuka struggle in 1968. At that time every labor union used to store a lot of helmets in its office since the Miike struggle in 1960, which was fought as an overall confrontation of All Labor vs. All Capital. Unionists wore helmets for protection from the riot police assaults when they were mobilized to the battlefield of the Miike struggle. Usual colors of helmets were white or yellow, and we happened to wear white helmets that were in store of the Doro. We borrowed 300 of them and appeared on the stage of the Sanrizuka struggle with white helmets. Colleague Nakae was at that moment chief of the organizing bureau of the Doro executive and suggested us to take helmets to Chiba.
The Kakumaru began later to wear helmets and put tapes (students used red and workers blue tapes) around them to distinguish from us, who were already wearing white helmets. In 1977 the Doro executive suddenly ordered us, the youth section of the District Chiba, to put tapes around helmets. We naturally regarded this order unreasonable and unacceptable, for helmets with tapes stood for the Kakumaru. I figured that it had become unbearable and inadmissible for the Kakumaru to find in every union activity of the youth section only the youth section of the District Chiba wearing white helmets without tapes, while all other youth sections wore helmets with tapes.
This helmet issue was surprisingly brought up to the Doro headquarters and was discussed there many times. I wondered how the Doro executive could spend their time with such an issue. I was summoned many times to the headquarters in Tokyo and, in face of Matsuzaki, president of the Doro, energetically insisted on our stand as representative of the District Chiba, “Helmets stand for political tendencies as you know very well. Consequently helmets of the youth section of the Doro are publicly recognized as representing the Kakumaru. How dare you then demand us to wear helmets of the Kakumaru? Listen here! We of the youth section of the District Chiba have a long history of helmets. We have been following a tradition of wearing helmets since the Miike struggle in 1960. Have you anything to say?” and they couldn’t say a word.
Finally, however, the Doro National Executive Committee, under increasing influence of the Kakumaru, issued a directive: “Helmets of the youth section of the Doro should be from now on white helmet with blue tapes around them and with black letters bordered by red”. They went so far as to instruct us into such details. Is this a directive of a labor union? I seriously wondered what was happening to the Doro.
I ordered the youth section of the District Chiba to put on tapes around helmets, for I realized what the Doro executive actually intended. No doubt they aimed at excluding us by every dirty means and force upon every member of the Chiba re-registration to the Doro. Determined not to be provoked by them, I gave the youth section an order to wear helmets with tapes.
Colleague Sekikawa, the then president of the District Chiba spoke to me: “It is unbearable for me to see the youth section wearing helmets of the Kakumaru against their will. Instead I'll wear Kakumaru’s helmet for them. Could you overlook this?” I answered to him, “Colleague president! It wouldn’t bring any solution when you alone wear Kakumaru’s helmet. There is no other way to get the youth section wear appointed helmets to live through the difficulties. Upon this decision, I called up members of the youth section to put tapes around helmets in the assembly hall provided with several hundreds of white helmets. Helmets with blue tape, that is, Kakumaru’s helmet, came out one after another by the hands of the youth section of the District Chiba. What a strange scene! Fellow workers of the youth section wore Kakumaru’s helmets in tears.
As I was firmly convinced that a labor union was required to tackle with difficulties like this, I never gave in to the complaints of the youth section. This motivated some ten members to withdraw from the youth section for some time, insisting, “I'll never wear Kakumaru’s helmet. By no means!” They were certainly right, too.
On the following day, 300 members of the District Chiba attended a rally of solidarity with the farmers in Sanrizuka. There used to be reserved seats for us usually in front of the platform in the meeting of the Opposition League and we were introduced to the participants, “Here comes the District Chiba. I ask you all to clear the way”. This time, however, what participants found before their eyes were demonstrators wearing helmets with tapes, that is, helmets of the Kakumaru. Suddenly there was an instant of silence in the meeting place. I still remember the scene. Nobody knew what happened to the District Chiba. The participants of the meeting wondered, “Are they really Kakumaru? It can’t be. They seem to be in fact District Chiba. But why should District Chiba wear Kakumaru’s helmets?” After this, we stopped wearing Kakumaru’s helmets once for all. It is recorded in our pamphlet with a title “We live on the railroad” at the time of the struggle against jet fuel transport: you can find there photos of the youth section of the District Chiba wearing helmets with blue tape. This is an evidence.
The District Chiba makes it principle to endure adversity to the utmost limit. It is evidently humiliating for the youth section of the District Chiba to wear Kakumaru’s helmets. Knowing it very well, we dared it. A lot of senior unionists admitted, “I was impressed by the youth section who dared that”. There was a wide spread sympathy all over Japan with us for our painful concession. It was just what I had expected for all that though I feel really sorry for the fellow workers of the youth section.
Meanwhile the struggle against the jet fuel transport to the Narita Airport was started. This struggle was fought not by the District Chiba of the Doro alone. In the central committee of the Doro in 1976, a special resolution proposed by our District Chiba on this issue passed unanimously. The national union convention in Minakami the next year also decided to fight the jet fuel transport struggle with the District Chiba at its head. In the new-year’s ceremony of the District Chiba, HAYASHI Taiho, the then president of the Doro, as a guest speaker, expressed a determination to fight the jet fuel transport struggle in strengthened solidarity with the Opposition League in Sanrizuka.
As the top secretary Aoki and the chief of organizing office Shiroishi, both belonging to the Kakumaru, wouldn’t issue directives of struggle, we were obliged to have our own way in organizing struggle. Every day I visited the Doro headquarters in Meguro, Tokyo together with the then vice-president of the District Chiba Nishimori and demanded, “You should issue directives to struggle following the union’s official decision”. Thus we fought out the struggle against jet fuel transport to the Narita Airport.
For transport of jet fuel, a new business, the JNR management naturally needed additional locomotives to be dispatched to the Chiba Engine Depot. Besides more locomotive engineers were also necessary. Just at that moment, the Kakumaru of the Doro headquarters offered locomotive drivers, unionists of the Doro, to meet the demand of the management. They were opposed to the management’s attempt in words but in practice supported it. It was the worst fraud.
In July the next year, 1978, the Doro executive decided in its national convention in Tsuyama “to dissociate from the Sanrizuka-Shibayama United Opposition League against Construction of the Sanrizuka (Narita) Airport”. I asked them what “dissociation” meant and got answer, “It is a severance”. At the same time, the Doro issued a “Declaration to Stabilize Freight Service”. Thus the Doro openly abandoned struggle against rationalization. The Doro leadership explained, “Strikes of union decrease demand for the freight service of the JNR. We exclude, therefore, freight trains in case of railway strike”. In fact the Doro had rarely waged strike in the freight branch. In case of the struggle for the right to strike, no freight train stopped also in Chiba. On the contrary, it was not the union but the management that stopped freight when there was a strike. Their reasoning was: it would make a trouble to run freight train when passengers trains are not running”. Thus there was no strike in the freight service for about ten years. Why did the Doro executive expressly issue such a declaration in regard to the freight service? It was because intense rationalization had been raging in the freight branch at that moment. The declaration of the Kakumaru meant actually total abandoning of the struggle against the rationalization.
Simultaneously the national convention of the Doro adopted an unusual union policy of supporting a campaign of the Kakumaru on a certain “Mizumoto Affair”, which was in fact a fictitious story of an alleged conspiracy that the state power murdered a Kakumaru student and left his body in a river.
All these absurdities took place in the Tsuyama convention. At that time still 40 % of delegates opposed to the policy of the National Executive Committee. The District Chiba fought on the forefront of the opposition groups but lost by a narrow margin. By the end of four days' convention, all the delegation members of the District Chiba had been completely removed from the meeting hall. At the exit of the hall, the delegates and observers of the District Chiba were brutally beaten by the Kakumaru unionists.
After the Tsuyama convention of the Doro in July, a national rally was held in September in Sanrizuka. We had to work out an effective way of joining the rally, for we were bound by the resolution of the union convention of “dissociating from the Sanrizuka-Shibayama Opposition League”. We found a solution: we held a meeting of our own in an adjoining site of the national rally, thus geographically “dissociating from the Opposition League”. Once the meeting of the District Chiba was over and the obligation to union activity was finished, it was officially up to each of the individual member if he or she personally visited another rally. Actually all members headed by the President Sekikawa joined the national rally of the Opposition League. The Press, well acquainted with the background, focused its report on the District Chiba and covered mainly the speech of the President Sekikawa rather than that of the host of the national rally, Mr. Tomura, the late president of the Opposition League. The news of the NHK, for example, sent a long shot of the rally of the District Chiba.
The report of the NHK on the national rally gave a pretext to the Doro to summon President Sekikawa and other officers of the District Chiba to the inquiry commission. Usually as a labor union it is a normal procedure to have a hearing before setting up an inquiry commission and then to summon the president of a district organization. The headquarters insisted, “The TV report is enough for an inquiry commission”.
It was in November that the inquiry commission was set up to look into alleged anti-union activities of the District Chiba. Only after four months in March the next year, the District Chiba broke off from the Doro and got independence. Why didn’t the Doro executive, during these months, take disciplinary measures to President Sekikawa responsible for all alleged anti-union activities? Usually in such a case, the executive power of the officer in question is suspended. As a rule, the president of a union branch is empowered to issue orders, to call meetings, to give mobilization directives, to attend collective negotiations with the management, to conclude labor contracts, and so on. During these months, colleague Sekikawa held all these rights for himself instead of being deprived of them. The Doro executive let him practice his job as before, while it set up an inquiry commission against him.
To consider the matter closer, the president of a union branch is directed by the union members of the branch, not nominated by the union executive. When the president is deprived of his executive power, the vice-president must take over the business and call a branch convention to elect a new president. But an alternative candidate for a new president is unlikely to be elected because the majority supports the existing president. Therefore, the union executive chooses rather re-registration of union membership, which asks actually if each member will stay within the union under the present leadership. You know it very well through the above-mentioned case of the District Sapporo. Different from the case of Sapporo, it was difficult in the Chiba case to launch a campaign for re-registration. The Doro executive must have hesitated, thinking, “If we begin a re-registration campaign in Chiba, all members will probably go to Sekikawa’s side”. Such was the underlying power relationship.
I thought over the matter in many ways. At that moment most of the chiefs of union local of the District Chiba were already firmly determined to quit the Doro. Very few are opposed to it. I was the only person, as chief secretary, that couldn’t make up mind in hesitation. There were reasons for that: what will happen if we become an independent union? What about treasury, how to establish collective bargaining with the management, what will be the friendly relations with the co-combative organizations? I shut myself up in a small room. Finally I appeared in the executive committee meeting of the union and spoke out my determination to split from the headquarters. Naturally I expected a heated discussion. Instead, all of the committee members told me, “We have been waiting for your making up your mind. The president and all of us, excepting only you, chief secretary, are already prepared for that. We knew you have been thinking through the matter and we have waited”. The decision was unanimously confirmed and a struggle for separation and independence began.
As a first step, we stopped to pay the union dues to the headquarters. The Doro is a union of single industry and treasury is centralized. Union dues are gathered and collected by the national executive and then distributed to each branch and local as pay to the all-time officers and secretaries. We totally stopped financing the headquarters. This case was later brought to the court and after all we got an order to pay 20 million yen to the headquarters. Before we finally broke up from the Doro, we thought of every thing to carry out the process.
Examining the experiences of the Sapporo case, I anticipated every possible measure to be taken by the Kakumaru of the Doro and presupposed ten measures and ten counter-measures. We prepared full mobilization of union members to face every possible conflict. We knew our membership of 1400 was not enough. We were all determined to do every thing in our power for our cause.
For example, the Doro would probably send us bands of violent “organizers”, say 100 or 200 for each action. Our 1400 members were dispersed in each local: the average number for each local was 100 with the smallest locals of less than forty members. “If a small local is attacked by the Kakumaru, what should we do?” We discussed over and over, “Let’s take a tactic of the NLF of Vietnam” “When they are a small number, beat them up!” etc.
After independence we naturally have our own finance as an independent union, the Doro-Chiba. As we stopped paying the union dues to the Doro headquarters, we got plenty of money, which we deposited in the Labor Credit Union. We figured that some day a problem would come up about whom this money belong to, to the Doro-Chiba or to the Doro. We anticipated confiscation of union’s treasury in case of a lost trial and withdrew all of our deposit before we made separation and independence. I still remember carrying a large sum of money divided in small bags to somewhere. You might know how heavy is tens of millions of money. We asked each other where to hide such a huge amount of money.
As we were so far determined and prepared for a decisive development, the Doro executive decided in the 104th central committee meeting on March 30 to expel four leading officers of the District Chiba including President Sekikawa and Chief Secretary Nakano and suspend the right of the union membership of all executive committee members. Since we had been previously informed of what the executive was planning against us by sympathizing insiders prior to the opening of the central committee meeting, we called an extraordinary union convention of the District Chiba on the very same day. Immediately after the Doro executive’s decision of an expulsion of President Sekikawa and others, we opened a founding convention of the Doro-Chiba and elected officers.
A disciplinary measure to the District Chiba would have actually meant disbanding of the District Chiba as union organization. Then a problem would come up who should be the labor representatives in the collective bargaining with the management, how about the conclusion of an overtime agreement under Article 36 of the Labor Standards Law or an wage agreement under Article 24 thereof, and so on. As a labor union that represents and defends the interest of the members, it was urgent for us to appear on the stage as a sole competent union representing more than one thousand national railway workers in Chiba through setting up an independent labor union, the Doro-Chiba.
Actually we were not successful till June when the Doro-Chiba was finally recognized by the Koroi (Public Corporation and National Enterprise Labor Relations Commission). During this time, we collected signature among the members of the District Chiba to confirm unity of the union in acknowledging that the Doro executive was behaving wrongly. We avoided collecting signature of joining in the Doro-Chiba. The reason is as follows: signing of affiliation, that is, an affiliation notification to the Doro-Chiba means automatically a withdrawal notification to the Doro; what we confronted was, however, not the Doro as a labor union but the Kakumaru who controlled the Doro. So we never wrote withdrawal notification to the Doro. Neither we wrote affiliation notification to the Doro-Chiba. Consequently our status became very ambiguous. We then worked out a rather odd logic: “exercising of a dual power”, that is, having a double status of the District Chiba of the Doro as well as of an independent union, the Doro-Chiba. This logic was considerably persuasive, for it reserved us voices in the Doro.
On the occasion of the Doro’s national convention in Kumamoto in 1980, the next year, we three of the Doro-Chiba, namely colleague FUSE, the then vice-president, colleague Nakae who had resigned the vice President of the Doro to join the Doro-Chiba, and myself, went to Kumamoto. There we met officers of several important Districts of the Doro outside the meeting hall to discuss every night how to form an opposition powerful enough to break up the Doro: “This policy will go”, “How about moving this amendment”, or “Let’s make a split within the Doro by this urgent motion”, etc. We were seriously thinking about a split of the Doro in the Kumamoto convention. Our effort of rallying an opposition to the Doro Executive was successfully under way. We had even prepared in Kagoshima a meeting place and lodgings for a new union with the help of the fellow unionists there. The Ohta-faction (Socialist Association-Faction of the Japan Socialist Party) in Kagoshima is politically opposed to the Kakumaru and had a strong influence on the Kagoshima Prefectural Council of Labor. Our preparation for a split from the Doro and for a new union had been almost completed.
Exactly at that moment the Socialist Association-Faction opposed to the split. Now many activists of the Doro-Chiba, therefore, got disgusted when they hear its name mentioned. The reason for opposition to the split was their policy of “unity and solidarity”, according to which the split of the Doro was erroneous. I believe that at the time of 1980 the split of the Doro into two could have been achieved with a good number of dissidents. It is said that there is no “if” in the history. Nevertheless I'd like to insist that the Division and Privatization of the JNR could have certainly been prevented if a split of the Doro had taken place then. Our effort had gone so far as to be almost actually materialized.
Our underlying strategy was not only to gain a separation and independence of the District Chiba from the Doro but also to achieve a split of the Doro into two. It all resulted in a confusion owing to the opposition of the members of the Socialist Association-Faction of Sendai and Kagoshima to a split. We were defeated one by one by the Kakumaru and finally only the Mito branch came out of the Doro in a limited way together with us. The fellow unionists of Mito had also been expected to act as a whole Mito branch. I visited a lot of union branches in Sendai, Utsunomiya, Akita and so on and carried the project on. But all my efforts did not bear fruit.
Thereafter the Kakumaru dared repeated assaults on the newly born Doro-Chiba in a complete collaboration with the JNR management. As the Doro-Chiba had been gaining power through establishing a local after another in Chiba district since its founding convention, the Tsudanuma incident, a violent assault by the Kakumaru on a local of the Doro-Chiba took place on April 17, 1979. A band of 200 Kakumaru, armed with bamboo spears, crowbars and alike, assaulted the Tsudanuma Electric Car Depot. They destroyed the building of the barn and beaten up unionists of the Doro-Chiba in it. Among them colleague Kataoka, chief of the Tsudanuma branch got his skull heavily fractured by the attack. As the Electric Car Depot was terribly destroyed and the train engineers belonging to the Kokuro couldn’t attend duty, 100 train operations stopped.
The JNR management, however, took no measure to the violence and destruction of the Kakumaru. Normally the management would sue the matter when its installations were heavily injured and train operation was considerably disturbed. Nevertheless the management did nothing at all. Even staffs of the barn got angry and criticized the management top. One of them came to me and asked, “The JNR won’t accuse the case. Please bring it to the court, for you are the victim”. I answered, “We have been fighting against the state power. Why should we ask the state power to settle the matter? It is a problem among labor unions. We'll make it for ourselves. You of the management should do what is necessary for you.
I decisively promised the chief of the barn to settle the matter of the labor movement on our responsibilities without disturbing the train operation. We anticipated further assaults by the Kakumaru in every local, such as Tateyama, Katsuura, Choshi, Narita and others and prepared necessary measures for that. Supposing a case of Kakumaru’s occupation of the workplaces, we assigned every unionist engineer to drive trains undisturbed.
Half of train drivers in the Tsudanuma Electric Car Depot belonged to the Kokuro. They could not come to work as the other half of the train drivers, unionists of the Doro-Chiba was in a violent confrontation with the Kakumaru in the workplace. As a result the train operation stopped. The personnel bureau of the JNR management apparently stood on the side of the Doro executive.
When “organizers” of the Doro came to our workplaces, they first visited the room of the chief of the workplace to address to him, “I am from the Doro headquarters. If you want to be promoted, you'd better follow my instruction”. It might be unbearable for senior workshop chiefs to obey the youngster of 30 years’ old. They easily got angry with that. Consequently quarrels broke out very often between them. It inevitably resulted in destruction of installations of the barn by the “organizers” of the Doro. For example, a room of the chief staff in Narita, drivers’ station of Shinkoiwa, union office of Tsudanuma, etc. were crushed by the “organizers” of the Doro. One of the barn chief staffs got his ankle sprained by their violence.
A lot of workshop chiefs came to me to confess, “Though the top management instructs us so and so, I'm now determined to face the next possible assault in my own way at the risk of dismissal”. The Kakumaru’s collaboration with the JNR management went so far as to make the workshop chiefs dissociate from the top of the management. They complained, “The head office of the JNR is too much committed to helping the Kakumaru of Doro”. From the hatred toward the Kakumaru many of them came to support the Doro-Chiba though they had formerly been hostile against the Doro-Chiba that often had been fighting work-to-rule and not obedient to them.
It was quite interesting. Some one within the management, furious with the Kakumaru often informed us of every movement of the bands of the Kakumaru, telling us, “Now 100 of them have just got on the express train from Tokyo station”. At this news, I announced locals to be ready for their assault. It helped us much, but the serious problem was Kakumaru’s overwhelming number of mobilization, say 1000 at a time!
The JNR management was following at that time a line “to normalize the labor-management relations’ after the experience of the defeated Campaign for Productivity Improvement. The aim of this line was to establish a union of labor-management collaboration through integrating all unions existing in the JNR into “a single union in a company”, with the Kokuro at first step and then also the Doro. To practice this line, the JNR management invited union officers to dinner parties and golf courses day after day. The Kokuro in Chiba was ruined by this.
The District Chiba used to be a union that never attended any dinner party of the management nor participated its leisure programs, a stubborn union. But to meet the changing reality, the executive committee of the Doro-Chiba one day decided to tackle with necessary evil as district executive and to make the Chief Secretary Nakano alone participate in management’s parties. I made effort to drink alcohol against my habit.
Meanwhile, unexpectedly the District Chiba broke off from the Doro. It collided with the management’s line of “normalization” and “one union in one company”. The management decided to crash the Doro-Chiba.
The Kokuro reacted just like the JNR management to this development. In Chiba, the chair of the Prefectural Labor Confederation was Mr. IHARA Kanji from the Kokuro. He belonged to a right wing tendency within the Kokuro but a man with keen sense of justice and human touches. On the occasion of the separation and independence of the Doro-Chiba, the then three chief officers of the District Chiba of the Kokuro demanded Mr. Ihara in his office to exclude the Doro-Chiba from the Prefectural Labor Confederation of Chiba since the Doro-Chiba was no more official District Chiba of the Doro.
The chair Ihara flatly refused this demand, saying, “You know what you mean? Here we are in Chiba. The Doro-Chiba is the most excellent union of the Prefectural Labor Confederation. It has made utmost effort to fulfill the obligations to carry out the policy of the Prefectural Labor Confederation. What then have you done for us on the part of the Kokuro? Nothing. You had better take a lesson from them”. They had to give up. At this news the Kakumaru made several visits to the house of Mr. Ihara to persuade him to their side, but he never gave in. And the case was finished.
A little after the separation and independence of the Doro-Chiba from the Doro, the Doro executive fabricated a certain “Doro-District-Chiba” with only scores of members and named it an official organization of the Doro. In Chiba, however, the Doro-Chiba evidently remains an official representative of the national railway workers’ movement.
Eventually we have succeeded in maintaining friendly relations with the organizations that long fought together with us in Chiba prefecture. What made it possible was undoubtedly the actual power relation at that time. In establishing a new independent union, the Doro-Chiba successfully gained 1350 members out of 1400 unionists of the previous District Chiba of the Doro to our side. We have won. Only a handful people of the Choshi and Sakura locals left us and went over to the Doro headquarters. I was impressed: everything depends on power relations.
It was rumored among the leading officers of the Sohyo that those who would follow Nakano could be at most 200 members. They thought it was inevitable under the direct pressure of the Doro executive, supported by the management, although the District Chiba was apparently right.
For example, Matsuzaki one day called up Ohmori, head of the Chiba Railway Control Office to the Doro headquarters to intimidate him into a collaboration with the Kakumaru. Ohmori, well informed of what was actually happening in workshops in Chiba was said to have answered, “Listen, Mr. Matsuzaki. Contrary to your estimation, almost all of the District Chiba would certainly go with the President Sekikawa. You haven’t got the real picture”. Then he was labeled as “Nakano faction”. When Ohmori was transferred from Chiba, the Doro branch in Chiba distributed a flyer, saying, “We have purged Nakano faction from the JNR of Chiba!” For Matsuzaki and the Kakumaru, all those who had different opinion from theirs were Nakano faction.
Looking back and summing up all the struggles that we fought against the Kakumaru of Doro for scores of years, I am firmly convinced, we have won.
I'd like now to explain the background of the struggle for separation and independence of the Doro-Chiba from the Doro. The Kakumaru of Doro together with the state power was afraid that the dramatic development of the AMPO-Okinawa struggle of 1970 would threaten to go hand in hand with the national railway workers' struggle.
What motivated the 1970 AMPO-Okinawa struggle was in the first place a deceitful policy of returning Okinawa to Japan. The struggle on Okinawa problem, coupled with the struggle against the Vietnam War, soon developed into the AMPO-Okinawa struggle. The AMPO struggle in 1960 was essentially organized by the National Conference against the AMPO-treaty sponsored by the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Sohyo. Against this background, the Zengakuren that had broken off from the leadership of the Japan Communist Party in 1957 played a central part in radicalizing the whole movement. In contrast to the struggle of 1960, in the struggle of 1970, the SP, JCP and the Sohyo completely abandoned the struggle from the very outset. Major driving forces of the 1970 Struggle were young workers rallying around the Anti-War Labor Youth Committee and students of the Zengakuren and the Zenkyoto (All-Campus Joint Struggle Committee). In other words, it was a young generation of teenagers and twenties that played an essential role in the struggle.
This is the first example in the history of the Japanese class struggle to overcome the existing framework of the movement. I was 20 years old at the time of 1960’s struggle and 30 years old in the struggle of 1970. The experiences for these ten years have brought me up in thought and character. So the 1970 Struggle was our own achievement.
I have got a strong conviction that a genuine workers party would certainly be established in ten years in stead of the SP and the JCP when these young people of teens and twenties grew up to occupy a central position in the labor movement and in other social fields as well. In November 1969 tens of thousands of young workers gathered from all over Japan to prevent the visit of the then Prime Minister Sato to the US. They all wore helmets of various colors and carried Molotov cocktails and iron pipes and fought against the riot police. This intense struggle has definitely marked an epoch in the postwar development of the class struggle in Japan. I was just in the midst of the upsurge of the struggle and said to myself, “In ten years, I'll be 40 years old. The twenties will be thirties. Then Japan would probably change”.
Nobody was so terribly hit by the upsurge of the 1970 AMPO-Okinawa struggle than the state power. What would happen when the struggle went on further in this way? Scared by the development, the state power applied the Anti-Subversive Law two times during the time to revolutionary organizations like the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL = Chukaku) and the Communist League (CL).
Likewise the Kakumaru was totally shocked by the explosive development of the struggle. It is well known that the Kakumaru ran away from the barricade during the campus occupation of the Tokyo University in 1969. The main concern of the Kakumaru in intervening the struggle was apparently to destroy the influence and organization of other political organizations in the movement. In the beginning of the 1970’s they published on their organ paper a series of articles attacking other political organizations, above all the Chukaku-faction (JRCL): they insisted in “a very candid way”, “While the state power seizes them (the JRCL, the CL, the Liberation Faction of the Socialist Youth and others) by the neck by means of the Anti-Subversive Law, we Kakumaru kick at them on the vital part.” It is a surprisingly elaborated formulation! That is a notorious policy of the Kakumaru known as “attack on neck and vital point”.
The development of the 1970 struggle has gradually exposed what lay behind their “leftist” words of the Doro, expressed in their criticism against the Mindo, social democrats and the JCP. The self-claimed “class-based labor movement” of the Kakumaru of Doro has gone bankrupt through the course of the 1970 struggle.
Another important factor that upset the Kakumaru was the above-mentioned passengers’ riot in Ageo in 1973. All these circumstances made the Kakumaru launch a concentrated attack upon the Doro-Chiba that was endeavoring to overcome the labor movement in Mindo’s, that is, social-democratic style.
The fundamental aim of the Kakumaru of Doro has been to destroy by violence all those political forces that would not obey their control to keep the labor movement within the established system. The Doro-Chiba diametrically opposed to the attempt of the Kakumaru to monopolize the Doro as its private instrument by means of terrorism. We regarded our struggle as a Major Campaign for Reform of the Doro in succession of the militant tradition of senior unionists.
At that time, an attempt was under way to bring about a “right wing unification of labor movement”. It aimed at disrupting the Sohyo and establishing a single national federation of labor-management-collaborationist movement like the Rengo of today. We made also a firm stand against this attempt.
It all developed into a struggle against a whole-scale offensive of the enemy forces to destroy national railway workers movement, namely a struggle against the Division and Privatization of the JNR.
We had to face a lot of difficulties to carry out the struggle against the Kakumaru of Doro. Among the union members an opinion prevailed in early 1970’s that it was a severe conflict of political organizations, namely the Chukaku and Kakumaru and that they didn’t want it brought into the Doro as a labor union. At that time, it was regarded as a matter concerning only the youth section of the District Chiba. When the members of the youth section came back from union activities unusually injured by Kakumaru’s terrorism and lynching, senior unionists used to comment, “We can’t stop it. It’s a matter of youngsters” “Young people should be courageous enough to do that”. But in the course of time, they gradually came to realize that the problem was not simply the youth section issue but that it was a serious matter if their own union could survive or not.
Then we had to confront the view: “Don’t bring sectarian conflicts of political organizations into labor union (the Doro)”. It was a prevailing view in every workshop and was very reasonable. To persuade the union members, we seriously and tenaciously argued, “Actually the problem is not that simple. You know in labor unions there are various political groups and parties, not only the new tendencies like Chukaku and Kakumaru but also the traditional political parties, such as the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. It is quite natural for the labor union to comprise political organizations. The problem is how these political tendencies are actually fighting for the interest of the union members, how they look upon labor movement and what policy they practice in order to face the present situation of the working people”.
During the discussion, somebody began to say, “You should settle the matter between the bosses of each group. I mean between Matsuzaki, the chief of the Kakumaru of Doro and our boss, you NAKANO Hiroshi. When the two negotiate, then the issue will be settled”. It is a view not easily to be refuted.
I decided to take a policy to show all my cards. For example, normally the union’s paper edited by the Doro headquarters need not be made public among the unionists, for it is filled with slanders against us, the District Chiba. It is up to the branch leadership to do so or not. I thought it a proper way to let all the members know how the Doro executive insisted and how we argued against it.
As a result, when “organizers” of the Kakumaru of Doro came to persuade the members of the District Chiba, everybody already knew what they were writing in their paper. The Doro executive had probably the mistaken belief that Nakano violently controlled the District Chiba, threatening unionists with iron pipe or something alike. On the contrary, we made every effort to discuss the issue intensely and thoroughly with the members. I still remember clearly how I ran around from a local to another for discussion.
The core problem was what is unity for the labor union. We need unity in labor union to fight against the Capital. In order to maintain and develop unity in the labor movement, it is necessary to keep fighting against reactionary thought and inclination that inevitably exists in labor union, represented by certain tendencies, parties and groups. Only through this conscious effort militant unity is achieved in labor union. Unity in labor union is not an abstract confirmation but is materialized in a concrete action under militant policy.
It concerns also every union membership. All union members, being brought up in a capitalist society, are inevitably influenced more or less by corrupt thought, for example on money problem. Bourgeois ideology latent in individual workers comes up by chance. Therefore, it is necessary for each of the workers to fight against erroneous thought of his own in the struggle of labor union. You should mention distinctly the fellow workers what is wrong with his argument. With organizations, the problem is the same. Just imagine, when each member is the opinion, “It doesn’t matter whatever happens to the union if everything is okay with me”. Then what will become of unity in labor union? Discussion must tackle with such problems. Therefore, for labor union it is impossible to work out a leading policy of struggle and to rally union members around it without “inner-union partisan (political) dispute” in a sense as I just mentioned above. When you remain in a vague unity of no practical significance, you can’t fight against the Capital.
Look at the labor unions affiliated to the Rengo. They have actually no unity at all. They look seemingly united. Officially they are a major organized labor. In fact, however, their members find themselves in a state of disunity, divided and isolated from each other.
A labor union is by nature a mass organization and has naturally a variety of members of different opinions and ideologies as well as a wide range of political parties and tendencies in it. It is up to each member of a union which political tendency and what kind of ideology to choose. Taking an example of our experience in the struggle for separation and independence from the Doro, we repeatedly explained to the members of the union, “It’s you who are to decide which is right Nakano of the District Chiba or Matsuzaki of the National Executive. It is not a problem to be settled between the “bosses”. Actually at the time of the national union convention of the Doro in 1976 in the Japan Youth Hall in Tokyo, we called out a mass mobilization of the District Chiba. I asked 300 rank and file workers to participate in the convention to witness themselves what Matsuzaki actually said and what “Tokyo people” were really doing. “Seeing is believing”. It worked very effectively on the members, more effectively than a score of meetings in workshop and discussions there. All unionists of the District Chiba thus saw what was happening before them with their own eyes.
In these ten years, I have been perseveringly talking with the union members over the issues concerning the union executive. They have come to realize what the matter really was, for it was not simply a problem of wage raising but an organization problem. In other words, their own union, the District Chiba of the Doro faced a crisis of life and death. They showed increasing interest in the matter.
Responsibility of the union leadership is very important for organizing discussions among the members. Many union executive give out only favorable information, keeping back the facts from members like the Kokuro headquarters officers who concealed the core of the “Four Party Agreement” from the membership. It is not a proper way. When you make a serious effort to explain the matter in a right way, they will understand it well.
We have successfully won a struggle for separation and independence from the Doro. It was the first victory in similar organizational cases in the history of the labor movement under the Sohyo leadership. A split of the dissidents from the corrupt union executive ending in rallying 1350 out of 1400 members to a new union is a case never experienced before. Of course there were many cases of splitting unions practiced in collaboration with the Capital. For example, in the case of the Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries, an overwhelming majority of the labor union with 10,000 members overnight went to the “Second Union”, that is, a company union. Contrary to this case of labor-management collaboration, no new militant labor union ever gained more than 90% of the total members of the original union in slitting. It is the first time since the founding of the Sohyo. Therefore those people who are well acquainted with the history of labor movement speak highly of our success.
What then made us possible to develop our struggle till today? First, the self-claimed “class-based labor movement” of the Kakumaru of Doro has definitely gone bankrupt. In contrast, the District Chiba has successfully carried on the struggle against the rationalization and the struggle for rail safety together with the struggle against jet fuel transport, motivated by the railway accident in Funabashi in 1972. We went beyond the defeat of the struggle for the right to strike in 1975 and made a steady step forward, gaining better working conditions.
The advance of the struggle has given unshaken confidence and pride to members and it supported them in the struggle against the Kakumaru. Consequently we have successfully built up a solid organization to fight back every attempt of the Kakumaru of Doro. Our victory was not won only through the physical confrontations with the Kakumaru.
The main reason of our victory was that the leadership has never avoided discussing thoroughly with the union members. We have squarely tackled with every question raised by the unionists. It was naturally very difficult to find an adequate answer to the demand, “Don’t bring the quarrel between the Chukaku and the Kakumaru into the union”. Nevertheless we made our utmost effort to respond it.
Besides, we let many members participate as often as possible in the political struggle, mainly the anti-war struggles, such as the Sanrizuka struggle. Not only the young workers but also the senior unionists were mobilized, including those who were close to supervisor. It is only through joining in the struggle that workers change themselves.
Outrageous violence of the Kakumaru of Doro made the Doro-Chiba members furious and drove them to hit back everywhere they encounter the Kakumaru. In Narita local “organizers” of the Kakumaru were received by a shower of limestone from the rooftop of the union office building and got heavily injured in the eyes, which required them medical treatment. It’s only one of the brave histories. They went so far as to make me warn them against “excessive defense”.
It’s quite natural that their anger occasionally broke out in an explosive way. Their indignation against the Kakumaru was deep-rooted. I remember a case of Kakumaru’s assault in the Tsudanuma Electric Car Depot. A band of 200 “organizers” of the youth section of the Doro executive rushed at a workplace of inspection and reparation where only 20 members of the Doro-Chiba were working with the workers of the Kokuro as majority. It was in the daytime and they were naturally on duty. The JNR management, however, let Kakumaru’s “organizers” do what they wanted. The power relations were apparently desperate for the 20 members of ours against the 200. Terrible outcome was anticipated. Nevertheless the 20 courageously hit back the 200. They made their riveted safety shoes their weapons against the aggressors and beat them off. The paper of the Doro executive reported this on its extra number, “We got injured by violent acts” “Shirts were torn apart” etc. We laughed at it, “200 were beaten up by 20?”
The chief of the Tsudanuma Electric Car Depot later came to me, saying, “Mr. Nakano, you have done too much. 20 people should not have defeated 200 people. It is destructive to the power balance. You must not win. You had better stop halfway”. In my opinion, however, it’s not good for us to be always defeated. We need to have guts to hit back with the united power. During this time, colleague Fuse, the then vice president of the Doro-Chiba, was dismissed by the Japanese Railway Control Law in charge of alleged violence, in fact, for hitting back Kakumaru’s assault.
Few people likes strife among political groups, like Chukaku, Kakumaru, Kyokai (Socialist Association), Kakudo (JCP), etc. Nevertheless, if you like it or not, you can’t do away with these things in the labor movement. Important thing is to clarify what is politically right and what is not. Union members are daily informed of “violent row of the Chukaku and the Kakumaru in so and so universities” by the press. You should not avoid facing these issues. You should rather squarely tackle the problem and propose to argue whether or not the labor union has nothing to do with these problems. We explained to the union members that the problem lying at the bottom of the issue was what should be the character and the task of the labor union in the present situation.
Consequently the rank and file unionists have gained a tremendous change of their consciousness in course of these struggles. When they had remained as they were before, they should not have come with President Sekikawa in the struggle for separation and independence. Their fighting power was thus developed into the five days’ strike against the jet fuel transport in Sanrizuka in March 1981. Again I was convinced that the driving force of our two waves of strike, which constituted the only counter-offensive of the national railway workers' movement against the Division and Privatization of the JNR, was the product of the experience of the 10 years’ struggle against the Kakumaru. Underlying factor was evidently a radical change in the consciousness of the members who learned a lot of things in the struggle.
Has the struggle against the Kakumaru been settled? No, not yet. Basically the issue has already been finished, for it has become widely acknowledged that the Kakumaru is anything but left wing.
We have since long insisted that the Kakumaru is an organization committed in betraying the working class, while the Kakumaru of Doro officially proclaimed to “resolutely fight against the management” and to “uncompromisingly fight against the state power” till the time of the Division and Privatization of the JNR. Then, in face of this offensive, a few years after the separation and independence, they most easily converted their position to the management’s side and revealed their true class nature. Now the state power and the JR capital have come to abandon them.
They have survived through controlling workers by means of intimidation under the protection of the JR management. They are far from organizing union members through presenting direction of struggle and persuading them into it. They regard workers as being easily to be threatened.
Struggle of the Doro-Chiba has shown that its members are less advantageous than in other unions in many regards. They are rallying around the Doro-Chiba for their pride as workers. It was just on those workers that the Kakumaru declared war and was fairly hit back.
Now we face an excellent chance. I mean a chance to gain the newly employed young workers of the JR to our side. Those young workers know nothing about the Division and Privatization of the JNR or the labor movement in general, particularly about strike.
For the time being, they are all affiliated to the JR-Soren. We of the Doro-Chiba are now teaching them day and night how a worker should live and what a labor union should be through our own experiences and our current struggle. It will powerfully promote the struggle to break up collaboration system of the JR-East Union with the JR-East company if we succeed in rallying the newly employed workers around the Doro-Chiba.
This is a decisive moment. We have to finish off the Kakumaru that has too long committed wicked acts. It’s a common wish seriously shared by all Japanese workers. All those workers who have been supporting 1047 dismissed JNR workers and earnestly seeking victory have the same view.
I wish you all to examine our experiences in the struggle for separation and independence that I have told you for your help. Bringing to mind the fresh spirit of the early days of the struggle and realizing the implications of what we have achieved, we of the Doro-Chiba are determined anew to make a further step forward for our cause.