Writings of Kazuo Nimura

The Labor Movement and Labor Relations in Japan
Before and After the First World War 1907-1928

1. Introduction

The object of this paper is to examine the situation of the working class and of the labor movement from the time of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) until the dissolution of the Hyôgikai (Council of Japanese Labor Unions). While the writer feels quite capable of making such an examination of working conditions and the labor movement during this period when the labor movement was making real progress, it is no easy task, owing to the state of current research and limitations imposed by the paucity of source materials.

In this paper I would like to elucidate the developmental stages of the labor movement, mainly with reference to labor disputes, focusing especially on the historical characteristics of each stage (1). The study should be able to provide an adequate examination of the conditions of workers' lives(2).

1 The Labor Movement Before the First World War

1 Major Disputes After the Russo-Japanese War

In 1907 occurred the second surge in the growth of the Japanese labor movement. The first period, which had begun in 1897, had seen the highest number of labor disputes recorded before the First World War, according to a 'survey of union strikes': in that one year alone (1897) there were 60 disputes involving 11,483 people (workers are known to have taken part in 54 disputes; data for the other 6 are unclear) (3). Significantly, the areas in which these disputes were continually breaking out were the bases for the major industrial sectors of Japan's capitalist economy - mines, arsenals and shipyards.

The direct cause of this series of disputes was clearly rising prices, especially those of daily necessities such as rice, salt and bean paste (miso) However, rising prices was a general problem and does not suffice to account for the continuous disputes in mines and arsenals. One factor is clear enough in the case of arsenals, namely, the overall large scale reduction in pay due to the cessation of the allowances and bonuses which had been frequently paid out during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and the post-war cuts in overtime. This was certainly the case. However, at the same time it also meant that those workers who took part in disputes had secured large pay rises during the war. Yokoyama Gennosuke notes that arsenal workers, "due to the [Russo-Japanese] war, were frequently given workloads and wages that were both unprecedented" and which went as far as "factory hands earning above one yen a day who would make over 100 yen a month" (4).

Recent research (5) has made clear that the real wages of workers in heavy industry rose after the Sino-Japanese War, albeit slightly, and that their lifestyles began to diverge from those of the various urban and poor rural classes on whom they depended. This trend was further strengthened by the Russo-Japanese War with its increased demand for labor in heavy industry. It was the very fact that they had escaped, or had begun to escape, from the standard of living and lifestyle of 'lower class society' that made workers in heavy industry acutely conscious of post-war 'poverty'.

However, this is not enough to account for the violent disputes and strikes that were still going on in 1907 in mines, arsenals and elsewhere, because although 'poverty' was one of the main causes of the disputes, the mere existence of 'poverty' or even the awareness of 'poverty' does not actually cause disputes to break out. In a sense, 'poverty' is always present. How then did it become the cause of organized strikes and violent disputes precisely in 1907? Elucidation of this question first requires an examination of the characteristics of the disputes themselves.

The first point to notice is that in arsenals and shipyards, those workers primarily involved in the disputes were lower-ranking foremen and skilled workers, who were opposed to white collar staff and senior foremen. At the same time, in the mines, workers of skilled grades, especially face workers, were ranged against the miners' lodge bosses (hanbagashira), mine managers and mine office-workers. Foremen and mine managers were attacked because they insisted on employment regulations that ignored customary workplace practices, cut rice provisions and imposed penalties and severe punishments such as dismissing workers, and forced the workforce to accept such behaviour. There was resentment of white collar staff and senior foremen on account of injustices such as the fixing of wage rises and the prices of contracts and demands for bribes.

These contradictions in management practices increased rapidly around the time of the Russo-Japanese War (6) and were the result of the introduction of new technology. In the early stages of production, there were few engineers, and production depended heavily on manual skills. Unable to have a direct grip on the sharp end of the production process, management contracted work out to senior (i.e. older) workers and entrusted them with work group leadership, supervision, determination of wages and sometimes even the hiring and firing of workers. However, with the growth of management operations, the introduction of new methods of production and the consequent changes in the internal structure of the workplace, this indirect system of management was faced with the need for revision. To various degrees in different industries, managements and workplaces, employers moved to tighten up the regulation of the production process. Instead of contracting work to senior workers (oyakata - workgang bosses), employers offered workers their own individual contracts, or else a piece rate system was employed.

The end of the oyakata contract system often meant a change from a variety of flexible workplace practices to the rule of a set of uniform workplace regulations. The oyakata contract system made for a harsh regime under the control of the oyakata, who would sometimes behave in a selfish and arbitrary fashion in determining working conditions, but on the other hand, the relationship between these senior workers (oyakata) and the factory hands (shokkô) could also be one of a direct, daily nature that had a 'human feel' to it. The boss looked after the workers' interests when it came to dealing with white collar staff and other workers' groups. The end of the oyakata contract system was greatly to the advantage of the employers, but did not necessarily bring workers any improvements in their working conditions. Neither did the imposition of a unified system of workplace regulations mean that the arbitrary and subjective determination of individual workers' working conditions would be replaced with fair treatment based on objective standards. A worker's status and allocation of duties continued to be left to the judgment of senior foremen and junior engineers, and bribery remained the norm.

The oyakata contract system of the lodge bosses was also ended in metal-mines, and the lodge boss's duties were restricted to maintaining the supply of labor, getting the men down the mine, and overseeing work in the mines. As a result, their income, which was now based on fixed bonuses - commission paid for each man hired, and for the number of men they got down the mines each day - suffered in real terms whenever prices went up. Lodge bosses therefore took more money from their men by putting up the cost of board and of daily necessities in their lodges and by charging them extortionate rates for transport, all of which only worsened relationships between them and the miners. On the other hand, the end of the oyakata contract system and the mine owners' introduction of direct contractual relations with their workers removed the mask of the lodge boss as employer, and by revealing him to be in fact but an exploitative intermediary, weakened their control over the miners. Such were the objective conditions which could cause disputes in arsenals and large mining concerns after the Russo-Japanese War.

Another cause of the series of major disputes in mines and arsenals that should not be overlooked is the factor of workers' views of their own working conditions. It has usually been claimed that a characteristic of the labor disputes of this period was their spontaneity and lack of organization. Under the Public Order and Police Law (1900) the existence of labor unions was not recognized, and so there were spontaneous eruptions of anger among workers whose livelihoods were oppressed by poverty. It is true that acts of violence and strikes were not organized and led by trade unions and to this extent, the above-mentioned claim is not inaccurate. However, I cannot concur with the tendency to emphasize spontaneity alone, because the fact that miners' and ironworkers' disputes could take place at all is due to the experiences and traditions of the labor movement prior to 1907.

Let us see how this is evidenced by taking a look at the Ashio riot, which triggered a series of subsequent disputes. It is often said that this riot broke out 'suddenly' on February 4th 1907, but this is not the case. In fact, more than three years before the riot, a miner, Nagaoka Tsuruzô, whose goal was 'the organization of a national miners' union', had arrived at Ashio copper mine and had carried on a persistent campaign of activity among the mineworkers there.

Why did a labor organizer like Nagaoka appear from the ranks of mineworkers? The answer is closely connected with existence of the mineworkers' autonomous brotherhoods, the tomoko dômei (lit. friendly associations). What decided Nagaoka to become a union organizer in the mineworkers' movement was certainly the influence of Katayama Sen, but Nagaoka was predisposed to take up Katayama's recommendation so promptly by the fact that he himself had long been a member of the tomoko dômei and had traveled the length of the country working in various mines. During that time he had organized a number of strikes based on the tomoko dômei and had also successfully led a campaign to abolish the miners' tax in Akita Prefecture. Nagaoka was able to continue his activities at Ashio for three years, because mine owners and the lodge bosses (hanbagashira) could not ignore the tomoko dômei practice of watariaruki - moving from mine to mine. The significance of this fact becomes clear when it is recalled that in Chikuhô coal field, where there was no tomoko dômei tradition, as late as the 1920s it was hard for the labor movement even to get into the area to organize.

During his three years at Ashio, Nagaoka censured the owners for ignoring the workers' health and safety (7), and persistently exposed concrete examples of unfair treatment by office workers and lodge bosses. In the autumn of 1906 in particular, when he was joined by activist Minami Sukematsu from the Yûbari coal mine, and the Ashio branch of the Dai Nippon Rôdô Shiseikai (the Greater Japan Society of Devotion to Japanese Labor; hereafter Shiseikai) was founded, the movement gained rapid momentum. Shiseikai went beyond the organizational goal of using cooperative movements as a basis, which had been customary since the Ironworkers' Union, and put forward demands for higher wages and better food (rice); if these demands were not accepted, the men of the tomoko dômei were to withdraw their labor en masse (8). The Shiseikai activists worked on the tomoko dômei and got their support, ultimately leading a successful movement for the restoration of the tomoko dômei 'treasury box', which had been stolen from them by the lodge bosses - one of the indirect ways in which they exploited the workers. The Ashio riot broke out the day before this 'treasury box' was due to be handed back to the mine committee members of the tomoko. There are strong grounds for suspecting that the man who led the riot was paid by the lodge bosses.

Meanwhile, the disputes in arsenals and shipyards were inseparably related to the experiences of the Ironworkers' Union and others; this is clearly shown by the fact that in the three disputes that occurred at the Kure arsenal in 1902, 1906 and 1912, no small number of former Ironworkers' Union members, such as Muramatsu Mintarô, (9) were involved, and there are indications that in the dispute at the Osaka arsenal, "the main instigators were factory hands who came over [from Kure] and stirred up some of the workers"; "it appears that these factory hands have organized strikes at each factory" (10).

Moreover, the experience and traditions of these strikes were passed on by the young people who had witnessed them to the generation of the post-1918 era.

2 Yûaikai (the Friendly Society)

After the 1907 surge of activity, the number of labor disputes suddenly subsided. The years 1908-1910 saw only 13, 11, 10 strikes respectively, the participants numbering only 823, 310, and 2934. After the Japan Socialist Party's Second Congress, which was held immediately after the Ashio riot, and in an atmosphere of tightening government suppression, internal disputes within the party intensified; following the 'High Treason Affair' (Taigyaku jiken) of 1910, the labor movement was forced into a situation in which it was virtually incapable of activity. As a result, the ten years from 1908 until the rice riots of July-September 1918 are known as the 'winter period', and the tendency is to regard those years as a blank. Recently however, it has been noted that in large urban centers there were a number of civic disturbances, which have caused the period to be re-examined. These will not be dealt with here, as citizens' movements, including the rice riots, were discussed separately in chapter 1. Here I would like to focus on the movement in the years after the Sino-Japanese War by comparing it with the Friendly Society (Yûaikai) of that period.

From such a comparison, it soon becomes clear that the Ironworkers' Union and the Yûaikai shared a number of characteristics. Both were the fruit of the efforts of intellectuals, who continued to play a large role after the founding of the two bodies. Neither group was effective as an organization that sold labor; both held their main aims to be the 'awakening' of workers to the 'dignity of labor', the building up of a 'moral culture' through 'solidarity', the 'improvement of skills' and the 'raising of the status' of workers. These common aims suggest the similarity of the problems faced by both groups.

The 'top-down' style of organization by intellectuals certainly mirrors the 'top-down' nature of the growth of Japanese capitalism. In Japan, which had no guild tradition, the practice of workers determining their own working conditions amongst themselves was relatively undeveloped. This was why alien technology from western countries was accepted with little protest. Traditional craftsmen's organizations were weak bodies in Japan, and between such craftsmen and the new class of factory workers there was a cleavage in terms of both technological experience and personal 'lineage' (i.e. the old master-apprentice relationships). These facts held back the development of autonomous organization on the part of factory workers (11). Rather, such workers' organizations began as the result of the propaganda of 'intellectuals' who had acquired knowledge of the western labor movement.

Secondly, in the campaigns of both organizations, workers were most attracted by their calls for 'improvements in [workers'] status'. At the time, many young men had left their villages for the cities with the aim of 'getting on in the world', examples of which would be graduating high school after years of hard study and becoming a civil servant or a company employee, or else working one's way up from being a shop assistant to owning one's own shop. By comparison, becoming a factory worker or a mineworker in the new fields of industrial work offered few opportunities for enrichment; it was often dangerous and meant losing out in the competition to 'get on in the world'. Workers' feelings of frustration were widely reflected in the moral degradation of 'drinking, fighting, and whoring', which led to growing prejudice amongst those in 'normal society' against 'workers' communities'. This is why the call for 'better status' for workers, based on examples from the advanced countries of the West, with its corollary of the ideology of 'the dignity of labor', was able to play such an important role in persuading workers to join the labor movement (12).

As the overwhelming majority of the working class, both economically and in terms of their lifestyle, did not in fact manage to get themselves out of 'lower class society', their demand for 'better status' may seem not to have been very strong, but for those few more successful workers who did begin to find their way up and out, the call for a higher social status had a strong appeal. This is why Takano Fusatarô's appeals made such an impression on skilled 'ironworkers', especially 'senior workers' (oyakata rôdôsha - workgang bosses) and why the Friendly Society (Yûaikai) in its early days was built on the support of such skilled workers.

Of course, the Ironworkers' Union and the Friendly Society also differed in numerous ways. Whereas the Ironworkers' Union emphasized mutual aid, for the members of the Friendly Society, mutual aid activities went no further than socializing. The Ironworkers' Union, as its name suggests, aimed at organizing only engineering workers, while the Friendly Society opened its doors to all types of workers, including craftsmen and women workers.

However, the main difference between the two bodies is that the Ironworkers' Union declined over a number of years, while the Friendly Society by contrast grew steadily, both in name and reality, finally developing into the General Federation of Labor (Rôdô sôdômei), the representative body of the Japanese labor union movement. I should like to examine how this difference between the Ironworkers' Union and the Friendly Society developed.

The first question relates to the leaders of the two groups, and especially to differences in their social status. In the case of the Ironworkers' Union, both Takano Fusataro and Katayama Sen underwent a literally painful period of studies in the USA, and based on the knowledge and experience gained there, sought to cultivate trade unionism back home. However, they had no titles or letters after their names that would be of use in developing public campaigns in Japanese society nor did they have advantageous networks of social contacts.

By contrast, Suzuki Bunji, a graduate of the Law Department of Tokyo Imperial University, was in a much better position, and this difference proved to be of no small consequence in the movement's early period. The Friendly Society's healthy progress in the early years was due in large part to the cooperation of executives and technical engineers in the companies that formed the branches of the organization. Certainly, this was because the principles of Yûaikai were accepted by those managers and engineers who wanted a new type of worker who would adapt positively to company rules, but at the same time, it cannot be denied that it was Suzuki and those 'titled' supporters behind him who were calling the shots.

This was a condition that continually ensured the Friendly Society's steady progress. A more fundamental factor was that the development of Japanese capitalism during these ten years or more brought with it a quantitative and qualitative growth in the working class.

With regard to quantitative growth, it will suffice to note that in 1897, the year of the formation of the Ironworkers' Union, there were just 32,000 workers in heavy industry, whereas by 1914 the figure had grown 5.6 times to 180,000 and by 1919 to 392,000 (12.2 times) (13).

Helpful sources to substantiate qualitative improvements can be found in institutional publications. I do not have the space here to go into any comparative analysis of the contents of these, but in Rôdô Sekai (Labor World), the initial journal of the Ironworkers' Unions, there were very few comments by workers themselves. The situation was almost the same in the first two years of Yûai Shinpô(Friendship Bulletin), but from issue No. 26 (April 1914) a 'free space' column was started in which workers' letters were printed. When the journal was renamed Rôdô Oyobi Sangyô (Labor and Industry), there was an increase in workers' letters to this column, and in the January 1916 issue, we read: "recently readers' letters have greatly increased; hundreds come in every day". From among these correspondents came Hirasawa Keishichi who published a number of excellent dramas and novels, beginning with the social drama Kôjôhô (Factory Law).

Of course, the qualitative growth of workers is not only shown by increases in readers' letters. Working class activists, such as Kikuchi Kiichi, Hirasawa Keishichi, Fukuda Tatsuo, and Matsuoka Komakichi and others were appointed to head office posts that had initially been occupied only by intellectuals, and these new men played an important role. The conditions that produced these vanguard workers were the improvements in the diffusion of public education and the progress of mechanization, which demanded a higher intellectual level from workers. At the same time, the fact that they were carrying the traditions of the movement must not be overlooked.

For example, there is the case of Hirasawa Keishichi, whose life as a worker began in 1903 when he was an apprentice factory hand at Japan Railways' Ômiya railyard. His father too had worked at the same yard since 1899, as a metalworker. Japan Railways of course, was the organizational base of the Kyôseikai (the Reform Society) which was organized at during the 1898 Japan Railways dispute. The Ironworkers' Union had a branch at the Ômiya yard, and in March 1900 the branch members were at the forefront of preparations for a strike by organizing a campaign for better treatment of workers. As the son of a factory hand at the same works who became a worker himself there at the age of 14 and during that time lived in Ômiya, Hirasawa could not but have been influenced by this movement. The Muroran factory of the Japan Ironworks was the base of the union's Muroran branch, which produced many activists such as Matsuoka Komakichi, Miki Jirô, Katsura Kenkichi, Koizumi Shichizô, Konishi Kiyozô, Nakata Sôji, Mochida Morikazu, and Fujinuma Eishirô. The Japan Ironworks' Muroran factory had been founded around a large group of workers who had moved there en masse from the naval arsenal at Kure. As we have seen, the Kure arsenal had experienced repeated strikes led by "veterans of Ironworkers' Union struggles". The new men from Kure had problems with the authorities in Muroran in 1909 over payment of district taxes and, prior to the founding of the Friendly Society in 1912, began a dispute for higher wages. It was in that dispute too that Matsuoka showed his capacity for leadership.(14)

2 The Labor Movement's Period of Real Development

1 The Year 1917: The Beginning of a New Upsurge

The year 1917 saw the beginning of the third phase of labor activism in Japan. Clear indications of this were the rapid rise in the number of strikes and walkouts. The number of strikes rose year on year from 64 in 1915 and 108 in 1916 suddenly to 398 (57,309 strikers) in 1917. There was a temporary fall-back from November 1918 to May 1919, but from June the increase set in again with over 100 strikes recorded for July and August. This went on for 35 months until the effects of the post-war recession showed themselves in May 1920. Between June 1917 and April 1920 there were 1395 strikes, involving 198,402 workers, a monthly average of 40 strikes (5,670 workers). This monthly average of the 1917-1920 period thus clearly outnumbered the annual average of the previous 20 years since strike statistics had first been collated in July 1897, which was approximately 31 strikes (4140 workers).

Table 1   Numbers of Strikes and Strikers per Month
(Upper row = nos. of strikes; lower row = nos. of strikers) 

Source: Shôwa san-nen rôdô undô nenpô (Labor Movement Yearbook 1929). Errors were corrected in subsequent volumes.
Working to rule and factory closures were included from 1924 and 1927 respectively.

The increase in strikes clearly indicated that the movement had attained a new level. Many previous studies have described 1918, the year of the rice riots, and 1919, when so many unions were founded, as momentous years. Both have their own particular meaning, but I feel that the significance of the upsurge of strikes of 1917 has been too lightly regarded. I shall return to this point later.

One reason for the sharp increase in strikes in 1917 was obviously rising prices. The Factory Superintendant's Annual Report No.2 states:

In 1916 there was a dramatic rise in the price of all goods; furthermore, the greatest rises were in the price of staples such as rice, barley, firewood and coal which increased by as much as 50%.

On the other hand,

real wages of factory workers rose by at least 30% to 50%; many received almost double wages. Thus, because factory workers' wages rose sharply, and furthermore, in real terms, it seemed as though their lives were easier than in previous years, but the dramatic rises in prices were far greater than the rises in wages. Consequently, although there are a few exceptions, the lives of most workers cannot necessarily be said to be easy.

The reason for the sharp increase in the number of strikes did not of course lie only in price rises. The quantitative growth in the size of the working class was above all rooted in the rapid development of Japanese capitalism spurred by the First World War. In 1914 there were 950,000 factory workers, but by 1919 the figure had risen to 1,612,000. This figure accounted only for factory workers in privately owned factories with five or more workers, and there were also many omissions from the statistics.(15) When the figures for laborers (93,000), workers in state-owned factories (163,000), mineworkers (465,000), communications workers (115,000), transport workers (578,000 in 1920) and workers in factories with five employees or fewer are included, then the total figure for 1919 is more than 3,000,000.(16) Further, it needs to be borne in mind that although the proportion of female workers, as has often been indicated, was high - 54% in private industry alone - male workers were overwhelmingly the majority in state-owned factories, in mining and transport.

The rapid growth of the working class influenced the development of the labor movement in various ways, but the first thing that needs to be highlighted is that the relationship between supply and demand favored the workers in this period. To examine this point, it will not suffice merely to point to the increase in the total number of workers or to the increase in the proportion of workers in heavy industry, because different labor markets formed within heavy industry in accordance with occupational categories and degrees of skill and because five years is too long a period to study in a discussion of influence on the labor movement.

There is no space here for a detailed examination of this point in relation to each occupational group, so I shall focus on changes in numbers of engineering and tool factory workers by industry each year from 1916-1920. The increase was especially marked in 1917, and particularly in the shipbuilding and engineering industries. The main reason for the series of militant strikes that occurred especially in these industries from 1917 onwards is to be found here.

Table 2  Nos. of Workers in Machine Tools Factories by Industry
YearMachine Tools Factories
Engineering Industry Shipbuilding & rolling stock industrieTools industriesMetal products industries
Nos. of work placesNos. of workersNos. of work placesNos. of workersNos. of work placesNos. of workersNos. of work placesNos. of workersNos. of work placesNos. of workers

Source: "Factory Superintendant's Reports" Nos. 1-5. The upper rows for each year show workplaces with 15 workers or more on the last day of December of each year, while the figures in parentheses in the lower rows relate to 1916 as a base index of 100.

From 1919 statistics began to be collated not only for strikes but also for disputes that did not entail militant action; that year there were 1891 disputes involving 272,088 workers - the highest figure for any year before the Second World War. The very reason why the collation of such statistics was begun is thought to be because "disputes involving strikes" had increased so rapidly by 1919. This reflects the fact that labor markets had become sellers' markets, which is also surely borne out by the short duration of the strikes. In 1917 71.6% strikes lasted 3 days or less; in 1918 the figure was 79.1% and in 1919 73.1%.

However, the most important characteristic of the labor movement in this period is the combination of strikes with labor unions. The main feature of the post-Sino-Japanese war period had been the establishment of 'the labor union', symbolized by the Ironworkers' Union, and after the Russo-Japanese War, the movement had been characterized by a series of disputes in large engineering and mining companies. Now, after the First World War, the significant feature was the combination of the two elements of union organization and militant action. The question arises as to why this did not happen as much in 1919, when so many unions were founded, as in the dramatic year 1917.

Certainly, 1919 was the year in which the combination of strikes and labor unions made a particularly strong impression. The period before and after major disputes in that year saw the founding of numerous unions such as the Koishikawa Roodookai at the Tokyo Army Arsenal, the Kakushinkai, which organized a general strike at 16 newspaper companies, the Dai-Nippon Koozan Roodoo Doomei (Greater Japan Mineworkers' Union) that organized disputes at the Ashio and Kamaishi metal mines, the Nihon Kootsû Roodoo Kumiai, which led the Tokyo municipal electrical workers' dispute. Yûaikai too was involved in many disputes that year such as the Kawasaki Shipyard dispute and also changed its name to the Dai Nihon Roodoo Soodoomei Yûaikai (Greater Japan Federation of Labor Friendly Society), renewing itself in both name and reality by embracing the union movement. Many other unions were founded up and down the country in connection with labor disputes.

However, although it is often thought that the combination of strikes and unions suddenly came together in 1919, this was not actually the case. The first signs had appeared around 1915 in a branch of the Yûaikai. At the founding ceremony of the Honjo branch in February that year, the guests of honour were workers who had been dismissed for having led the Tokyo Muslin Company strike in the previous year. One of them, Kikuchi Kiichi, as the worker who had done most to expand the membership, was put in charge of liaising with head office and appointed 'local organizer'. In 1916 an issue over the dismissal of a Yûaikai member at the Yokohama docks culminated in a strike at the centre of which was the local Yûaikai branch. These disputes did not yet represent the general trend, but following the Ikegai Ironworks dispute in January 1917 and the Japan Steelworks dispute, in which the Muroran branch played a leading role, Yûaikai underwent a rapid transformation.

In response to the Muroran dispute, government and management pressure on Yûaikai strengthened. Previously, many branches had folded owing to their recognition and protection by management and there had been a stream of members quitting. To parry the pressure, Yûaikai head office now feigned acknowledgment of the demands of the police, military arsenal authorities and factory owners, or urged restraint among its members by issuing a declaration that emphasized "harmony between capital and labor". It was perhaps due to this that the organization's journals do not carry much news of branches that had been involved in disputes. Nevertheless, in addition to Ikegai Ironworks and Japan Steelworks (Muroran), it is clear from numerous documents that Yûaikai members were active in many other disputes such as those at Mitatsuchi Rubber, Tokyo Instruments and it's Onagigawa branch, Fukugawa Gas, Tokyo Ironworks, Tokyo Wool, Japan Armaments, Mitsubishi Kobe Shipbuilding, Iwaki Mining Co. Fuji Gass Spinning, Seikôsha, Kyôritsu Electric, Japan Phonographs. The official report of the sixth annual Yûaikai conference in April 1918 stated that in the past year, head office had played a mediating role in some 70 disputes, but actually, the number in which Yûaikai branches had been involved was still greater. One problem is that whereas the conference report states that in the year from April 1917 to March 1918 the number of new members totalled 17,988, Chairman Suzuki acknowledged that the past year had been "a damaging year" and that "there has been a clear drop in membership since April last year". It has been estimated that at the end of March 1917 membership stood at just over 20,000, so that implies that there had been an exchange of most of the membership. It can surely be said that in this year Yûaikai began to function as a trade union.

Despite the closure of many branches and the continual loss of members, Yûaikai was sustained by the enrolment of some 18,000 new members. What made this possible was, above all, the unexpectedly favorable situation in shipbuilding yards and machine tool factories and the rapid increase in demand for skilled labor. This is what enabled those branch members at Muroran and elsewhere who had been laid off to find new work easily and then to be able to organize new branches.

2 The Background to the Growth of Unions

Although I have argued that 1917 can be regarded as a key year, I am not claiming that the movement in 1919 was simply a continuation of that in 1917. The fact that 1919, especially its second half, saw the formation of a spate of new unions is certainly worthy enough of attention in itself. According to Watanabe Tsutomu's research, in this one year alone, a total of 211 labor organizations were founded. However, this figure includes female worker supply unions and company-sponsored mutual aid unions, so not all those 211 groups can be considered labor unions proper. Even if many appeared to be labor unions, others had as their aims little more than seeking to participate as delegates to the ILO, or were dubious bodies intended to serve as political support bases in local elections. Still others were clearly nothing more than management puppet unions designed to oppose genuinely autonomous labor unions. Nevertheless, even some of these groups later developed into bona fide autonomous labor unions and cannot be judged solely on the basis of their leaders' intentions. Rather, the very fact that in this year workers organized with so many different motivations deserves attention in itself.

I would now like to turn to the question of why so many unions emerged in 1919. The influence of the Russian Revolution, the stimulus of the rice riots and the significance of the ILO are often cited as reasons, and none of these factors should be overlooked. However, sometimes it happens that they are simply trotted out and left at that, whereas actually, the influence of these factors differed according to the social class of the members of the labor movement.

For example, it is a fact that the Russian Revolution had little direct influence on the Japanese working class at that time, but for those intellectuals who played a leading role in the founding of new unions, the impetus of the revolution was certainly not insignificant. This is clearly the case with new union men such as Asô Hisashi, Sano Manabu, and Nosaka Sanzô. On the other hand, in 1918, it was not so much the Russian Revolution that had a direct and indirect influence on the workers themselves as the commencement of peace treaty talks in Paris that included the decision to establish the ILO (International Labor Organization). This was because firstly, Japan's representation at the ILO was thought would bring the first steps in recognition of labor unions by the Japanese government. In fact, the Hara Cabinet made the following statement, declaring that there was no Japanese law in force that prohibited labor unions:

Labor unions present no immediate danger. If there were to be any such danger from unions or from their plans, then they must be controlled, but if there is no danger and they organize peacefully, then there is no need to be concerned about them; at present the government recognizes no such danger.(17)

The Cabinet rejected the proposal of the opposition Kenseikai Party (Constitutional Association) to delete the words "enticement or agitation" from article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law but declared its intention to limit the application of the relevant clause:

If factory workers seek to engage in it (i.e. strike action), it may not be appropriate to put pressure on them through this (law); they do not need to be controlled through this clause. (18)

Also, at this time the debate among capitalist owners with regard to recognition of unions was increasing. For example, in June 1916 the Ôsaka municipal authorities asked factory owners in its area of jursidiction whether they favored or opposed factory workers' unions. While 120 declared themselves in favor, 17 said introductions would be premature, and 12 were in favor depending on who the union leaders were, only 12 declared themselves opposed. (19)

Secondly, Yûaikai members were greatly encouraged by the fact that Article 427 of the Paris Peace Treaty, which incorporated the principles of the non-commodification of labor and of the "general principle" of the right to organize, provided international recognition for the claims that Yûaikai and others had been pressing for years. The principle of the non-commodification of labor in particular made a great impression on the most progressively-minded workers as it raised consciousness away from the demand merely for an improved social status to the awareness that workers were, as fellow human beings, on an equal level with management. This was in stark contrast to the understanding of employers, who mainly took up the "general principle" in terms of the introduction of an eight hour working day and the abolition of child labor.

However, whatever the influence of the Russian Revolution and the ILO, it ought not to be forgotten that it was the fact that the Japanese working class itself possessed the strength to make something of these that provided the impetus for the upswing of the movement in this period.

3 The Move to Unify the Labor Campaign Front

An important characteristic that has affected the entire history of the Japanese labor movement has been the lack of the craft union tradition that transcends the boundaries of the individual company. For better or for worse, this fact has had a great influence on the nature of the Japanese working class. Until the 1910s, when labor markets were not yet fragmented, many workers had moved between companies seeking better working conditions, so there was a feeling of solidarity between skilled workers within the same industry and especially within the same occupation beyond the bounds of the individual company. Examples of such solidarity were Yûaikai's organization of a number of occupationally-based unions from within itself such as the Seamen's Union; the printing workers' Shinyûkai union, and the mineworkers' Zenkoku Kôfu Kumiai (National Miners' Union). However, apart from the seamen, (20) these groups lacked a firm foundation.

Because Japanese unions were not strong enough to be able to regulate working conditions themselves by means of union rules for admission, apprenticeship and working hours, workers were forced to deal with companies individually by means of tactics such as strikes and working to rule if they wanted to maintain or improve their working conditions. In such circumstances, labor disputes were inevitably limited to single companies, while company owners, for their part, deliberately and firmly ruled out negotiations with any 'employees' from outside the company. Such conditions meant that labor unions tended to take on a strongly company-based character. The fact that Yûaikai branches expanded their organization and often set up company-based unions as a result of labor disputes at particular companies was also related to this tendency.

Nonetheless, the frequent outbreaks of disputes and the serial establishment of unions from 1917 onwards shows that solidarity did spread among workers to a certain degree, and that fact itself served to encourage a wider spread of solidarity among workers. This was especially the case among more progressively-minded workers who began to look to working class solidarity beyond their own individual company or occupation.

It was not so much labor disputes at individual companies that played a great part in forging this sense of working class solidarity as the experience of joint campaigns around political issues. The first of these was the campaign to repeal Article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law and the campaign for universal manhood suffrage; the second centered round the issue of selecting delegates for the ILO and the opposition to the idea of government-appointed delegates.

The stimulus for the first of these campaigns was provided by Yûaikai, especially the activists of the Rengookai group in Kobe in 1919. In August that year Yûaikai changed its name to Dai Nihon Rôdô Sôdômei Yûaikai (Greater Japan Federation of Labor Friendly Society), and the manifestation of its intention to be a national labor union organization was also a direct result of this campaign. The general election in February of the following year further concentrated labor union activity across a broad front and stimulated the formation in the Kansai (Ôsaka) region of 'the Kansai Labor Union Alliance for Universal Manhood Suffrage' and, in the Kanto (Tôkyo) region, 'the Kanto Labor Union for Universal Manhood Suffrage and the Repeal of the Public Order and Police Law'.

The second campaign was promoted not only by Yûaikai but by joint action by many labor unions. In September 18 organizations (including Koishikawa Rôdôkai and Shinjin Seruroidokô Kumiai) which had not been allowed to participate in the ILO Delegates Selection Council process formed the Dai Nihon Rôdô Renmei (Greater Japan Labor Alliance? Federation?), and following further government steamrollering of union opposition, appointed the Toba shipyard chief engineer Masumoto Uhei as ILO labor delegate. Thereafter, Yûaikai, Shinyûkai, Dai Nihon Rôdô Renmei and Dai Nihon Kôzan Rôdô Dômeikai and others joined forces in a combined campaign of opposition. The movement for unity among labor unions made a big step forward in this joint struggle, and in 1920 resulted in the formation of a permanent alliance. On the occasion of the first celebration of May Day on May 2nd that year Yûaikai, Shinyûkai and nine other organizations formed the Rôdô Kumiai Dômeikai (Labor Union Confederation) (21). A similar development occurred in the Kansai region, where 13 organizations including Yûaikai, Kôjôkai, and Ôsaka Tekkô Kumiai formed the Kansai Rôdô Kumiai Rengôkai (Kansai Labor Unions Alliance). The Rôdô Kumiai Dômeikai and Kansai Rôdô Kumiai Rengôkai were both provincial alliances and in neither their organizational structure nor their campaigning activity could they be described as strong bodies. Nevertheless, it would not be right to disregard the significance of the formation of a permanent body that embraced the country's major labor unions and which had arisen out of joint campaigns over specific issues such as universal manhood suffrage, the repeal of the Public Order and Police law and the ILO.

The development of joint campaigns around political issues and the progress of a unified labor front not only helped workers involved in particular disputes to look beyond their own company; it helped develop the habit of looking at issues on behalf of the working class as a whole. It is well-known that in December 1919, at the time of the Ashio mine dispute, in which the Dai Nihon Kôzan Rôdô Dômeikai participated, Yûaikai, Shinyûkai, Koishikawakai, Nihon Kôtsû Rôdô Kumiai and others held a consultative council meeting, which resolved that: "The various labor disputes are not mere isolated issues but are to be seen as matters affecting the interests of the entire working class, and hereafter, all considerations of a personal or particular nature are to be discarded. Disputes are to be carried through in a spirit of united cooperation." It is clear that what accounted for this was what had built up in the joint campaign to prevent the exclusion of Masumoto Uhei as delegate to the ILO.

In the Tokyo Electric strike of April 1920 all unions joined forces in support of the Japan Transport Workers' Union as part of their preparations for May Day. On May Day itself an emergency resolution was passed in support of the strikers. The Rôdô Kumiai Dômeikai threw its energies into supporting workers involved in labor disputes, in addition to its other activities at the time, such as organizing a unified campaign of demands for action from government and employers to deal with the unemployment that had resulted from the post-war recession, and its campaign denouncing the Trade Union Law that had been imposed from on high. Strike funds, support rallies and demonstrations were organized in aid of workers involved in two other strikes that took place that year - the Fuji Spinning Company strike organized by the Yûaikai Spinning and Weaving Workers' Union, and the Seishinkai-led printing workers' strike at 15 Tokyo newpaper companies.

3 The Labor Movement and the Post-War Recession

1 The Effects of the Recession

The post-war recession began in March 1920. It affected the labor movement in various ways, both directly and indirectly, the most serious of which was that the labor market reverted to being a buyers' market. The number of workers at privately owned factories with fewer than 15 employees dropped by 110,000 from 1,480,000 at the end of 1919 to 1,370,000 by the end of 1920, a fall of about 7.3%. However, this figure does not fully represent the effect of the recession on the labor movement, because just as the movement had developed differently according to the industry concerned, so the effects of the recession differed depending on how variously industries were affected.

The industries most negatively impacted by the recession were precisely those that had provided the main platform for the labor movement, namely, the shipyards and metal mines. The shipbuilding industry, which had seen such abnormal growth during the First World War, now suffered fall-offs from its peak of 636,000 gross tonnage (steam ships) in 1919 to 217,000 tons in 1921, 102,000 tons in 1922 and 48,000 tons in 1925. In metal mining, especially copper, following the fall-off in demand from the military, Japanese companies lost out in competition with Chile and the Congo, where huge mining operations had begun, and also with cheap low-grade copper from the USA, which was produced in vast quantities by modern technology using the flotation method. Japan, which had formerly exported to so many countries, became a copper importer. Table 3 shows the changes in worker numbers in the shipbuilding and metal mining industries.

Table 3  Numbers of workers in shipyards and metal mining
YearShipyardMetal Mining

The number of shipyard workers fell by 40% over five years and that of mineworkers by 25%. Of course, in terms of competitiveness in labor markets, shipyard workers shared certain skills with workers in military arsenals and engineering factories, while metal miners could get jobs in coal mines, so these figures were not as bad as they looked. Nevertheless, following the 1922 Washington arms reduction treaty, there was a substantial cutback in labor at arsenals, while employment at coal mines fell continuously from its 1919 peak figures right through to 1932, so the labor demand situation remained extremely disadvantageous for Japanese workers. Reflecting these conditions, the number of strikes fell off rapidly from May 1920 onwards (see Table 1).

Most of the demands represented opposition to wage cuts and calls for increases in severance pay. However, unlike previous periods, despite the unfavorable circumstances, there was no let up in unionization, and workers felt no compunction about resorting to militant action. A good example of this was the frequency of strikes of July 1921, in which 270,000 workers took part, the highest monthly figure on record and the second highest in the entire interwar period.

2 The Mitsubishi and Kawasaki disputes

This 270,000 figure was mainly accounted for by the disputes at the Mitsubishi shipyards in Kobe and Kawasaki, both of which shared a number of features that were not characteristic of previous disputes. These strikes were not only the largest in scale before the Second World War, they were milestones indicating the progress achieved by the Japanese labor movement.

The first and major characteristic was that the strikes affected more than a single management; they were consciously fought out class warfare struggles between labor and management. This aspect deeply affected the other characteristics, the second of which was the novelty of the demands, namely, that they were not primarily economic in nature but were focused on issues of rights - the main one being the insistence on the right to collective bargaining. The third was the attempt at factory supervision by workers, and the fourth was that, when the strikes were defeated and autonomous unions expelled from companies, in their place factory committees were set up as bodies that could promote mutual understanding between management and workers.

As I do not have the space here for a detailed discussion of each of these characteristics, I shall focus on the first of them.(22) It is well-known that the Mitsubishi and Kawasaki strikes were greatly influenced by a series of strikes in the Osaka region shortly before, which were called to affirm the right to collective bargaining.(23) The spark that lit this particular fuse was the strike at Osaka Electric Company, which was supported to the fullest extent by Yûaikai Ôsaka Rengookai. With the strike at the Fujinagata shipyard in May, most likely because it was a strike by fellow shipyard workers, Kobe Rengookai moved faster than the Oosaka Rengokai to organize workers' rallies in support of the strikers, and did so four times, issuing a declaration that called for "recognition of the right to collective bargaining backed by a national horizontally-structured union". At three Sumitomo factories in Osaka (Sumitomo Electric, Sumitomo Copper, and Sumitomo Copper Rolling Mills) strikes were organized demanding the right to collective bargaining. Yûaikai Oosaka Rengookai rapidly expanded its organization through its activities in support of these strikes. The series of strikes culminated in the disputes at Mitsubishi and Kawasaki. The dispute which began on June 25th at the furnaces the Mitsubishi Motors factory quickly spread to the Kawasaki shipyard (July 2), the Kawasaki Hyoogo factory (July 4), the Mitsubishi shipyard (July 5), and Mitsubishi Electric (July 11). On July 4th, led by Yûaikai Kôbe Rengôkai, all the labor unions in Kôbe organized a major conference and, under the name of Rengoodan (The Alliance Group), called on all Kobe factory owners to "affirm the right to collective bargaining". The strikes also spread to the Kôbe Copper, Taiwan Sugar, and Dunlop Rubber companies.

Many workers who were not members of Yûaikai joined in the Kawasaki and Mitsubushi disputes, but the leaders were Yûaikai officials such as Kagawa Toyokiho. In the final stages of the disputes, Yûaikai moved its head office to Kobe, where Suzuki Bunji and others headed the strike group's joint campaign headquarters. With the focus on unions under the Yûaikai banner, labor unions all round the country garnered support from many 'campaign veterans' and raised over 10,000 yen in campaign funds.

Meanwhile, capitalist owners, for whom the problem was the question of 'rights', were in no mood to compromise on the issue of recognition of horizontally-structured unions that would undermine their control.(24) Lockouts were imposed at the three Mitsubishi companies and Kawasaki shipyard, and many workers were dismissed. On July 12, the pressure increased after the Kawasaki strike group issued a call for control of the factory. The police banned demonstrations anywhere in the city, placed restrictions on bill posting, and arrested and detained many workers. The army, under the pretext of 'protecting military procurements', sent in the military police (kempeitai), and a battalion of troops to guard the factory.

As the dispute lengthened, the solidarity of the strike group began to crumble. There was no basic strike fund; all the money raised went on operating costs and support for those arrested. Strikers and their families had to go without income for over a month. Moreover, employers suffered little from strikes when the economy was depressed. On July 25th the factory was reopened. Foremen organized themselves into a group compliant with the wishes of management and busily set about breaking up the strike group. The police banned pickets and protected those who sought to get in to work. The outcome of the struggle was already clear. On August 8th, the leadership committee decided on a return to work. On the 12th, it issued a 'declaration of bitter defeat' and dissolved the strike group. Yûaikai members were dismissed by the Kawasaki and Mitsubishi shipyards, and by the main employers in Kobe, and the Kôbe Rengôkai, which had been one of Yûaikai's greatest strongholds, suffered irreversible damage.

3 The Factory Committee System

In response to the series of disputes over the demand for collective bargaining rights, factory owners introduced factory committee systems. The unions, recognizing the difficulty of achieving their original aim of securing collective bargaining rights for horizontally-structured, industry-wide labor organizations, now turned to the second-best strategy of demanding the freedom to join a labor union and the establishment of factory committees. The hope was that with the selection of unions' delegates for the committees, the factory committees would in effect function as collective bargaining bodies.

However, what the employers were aiming at was 'consultative bodies for mutual understanding' that would replace autonomous trade unions. The committees were made up of a number of members elected by regular 'employees' and the same number appointed by management. They were not 'deliberative or executive bodies' but only 'advisory bodies' or 'discussion groups'. Issues of working conditions were generally excluded from the topics dealt with by the committees.

If autonomous labor unions had been maintained, they would have been supported by most 'employees', and if unions had sent delegates to factory committees, those committees could have been transformed from 'forums for an exchange of views' to real collective bargaining bodies. However, following the Kawasaki and Mitsubishi disputes, employers put all their energies into forcing autonomous unions out of their companies.

As we have already seen, the conditions of demand made the labor market at this time extremely unfavorable to workers. If union organization had been solid, it could have been maintained despite the adverse conditions prevailing in the labor market. But many unions had not long been in existence, and only a fraction of 'employees' were members of unions. Moreover, there was no legal protection for trade unions; on the contrary, beginning with the de facto prohibition of strikes under Article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law, the union movement was subject to an oppressive legal regime which the State authorities applied as they saw fit.

In times of dispute, those workers who remained loyal to the company were promoted, while those who were uncooperative were excluded. By the end of the 1920s, autonomous trade unions had been forced out of most large companies, although the timing and way in which this was done of course differed according to the particular industry and management concerned.(25)

Together with the establishment of 'forums for an exchange of views', various company welfare facilities were instituted or improved. These included mutual aid unions, coops, clinics, dormitories and company accomodation for married workers. By such means, companies wove a paternalistic web around their workforces. Core workers were mainly recruited from newly graduated students and given technical training at company training centers, where emphasis was laid on training up 'well-disciplined' workers who had a compliant attitude towards management.

As a result of this process, labor markets in large companies gradually fragmented according to company and became 'locked' to outsiders. Long-term service became the norm; intra-company promotion systems and wage systems calibrated on length of service and 'seniority' were widely instituted. On the other hand, temporary work systems also became widespread and were used as a means of adjusting to fluctuations in the economy; they were also a 'means of doing without unionized labor'.

Why did employers in this period seek to set up 'mutual discussion forums' in order to cope with 'the problem' of autonomous unions? Employers were looking for a reason behind strikes and disputes, which they held to be the fact that in the process of industrial expansion, a direct relationship between management and workforce had been lost and thereby, communication between the two sides had ceased. This can certainly be said to have been an accurate interpretation of one aspect of the issue.

In a social sciences research conference in autumn 1913 Suzuki Bunji pointed out that a characteristic of strikes in Japan when he said that "the direct cause is not just economic; there are a great many other motives that have to do with ethics, humanness, or emotion." He went on to say: "Factory workers today....more than anything want to be treated as human beings". (26) His view is borne out by many previous examples of industrial action such as those of the Japan Railway engine drivers, the Kure arsenal workers, and the Ashio mine rioters.(27)

Furthermore, the workers who took part in strikes and in the labor movement in the years after the First World War 'were keen to negotiate with the employers through their own delegates whom they had freely chosen' (Kyôchôkai [Cooperation and Harmony Group] 'Proposal for a method of labor committees'). To deal with such workers, employers would either have to recognize labor unions, or else would have to set up some kind of body in their place. If the wartime situation favourable to unions had continued over a much longer period, then the union recognition option might well have become widely adopted. Yet in the post-war recession, large companies were easily able to shut out independent unions.

4 Changes in the Ideology of the Labor Movement

1 From 'better social status' to 'liberation'

How did the ideology of the labor movement change after the First World War?

The first principle adopted by the progressive workers of Yûaikai and others was that of 'democracy'. Earlier Yûaikai demands for an improvement in the social status of workers had mainly been based on the hope and expectation that as workers themselves became more cultivated, so they would be better treated by society at large, but gradually this shifted to the demand that workers be recognised 'as human beings' . This meant not just the cultivation of the individual by the individual but the demand for better treatment of workers by those supervisors who worked with them on a daily basis and also better treatment by their employers. Yûaikai thus changed itself from a group offering workers moral support and means of self-cultivation into a campaigning group fighting to press workers' demands. We have already drawn attention to the crucial period of this change in 1916-17. The universal manhood suffrage campaign of 1919, the campaign for official recognition of trade unions, and the campaign to revise the Public Order and Police Law were consequences of the changes that had taken place in 1916-17. As we have seen, Japanese workers did not regard unions simply as 'organizations for the sale of labor'. This was because firstly, labor unions had little influence when it came to the determination of working conditions, and it also reflected workers' anger at social prejudices against them and also their strong resentment of the inhumane way they were treated in big companies, which lacked any 'human feeling' (ninjô).

Our labor movement is certainly not a just a matter of money. Of course issues of wages and treatment at work are matters of direct concern to us, but the central demand that drives us is the conscious striving for human freedom and the call for recognition of human equality. It is a comprehensive movement that campaigns to reclaim rights and that sets itself against capitalist tyranny and oppression. It is a battle to vindicate our honor, an affirmation of our right to exist, and of our will to live. We will not be humiliated like slaves. ("The Workers' Newspaper" No. 12, June 15, 1919).

This statement by a worker in the readers' column of Yûaikai's Kobe branch newspaper clearly shows what workers were expecting from the labor movement. They wanted a movement that aimed at 'liberation' and 'social reform'. At the same time, many intellectuals involved themselves in the movement in this period, and their motives were also 'liberation' and 'social reform'.

However, at this stage there was little evidence of concrete methods of planning out the route to 'liberation' or of achieving 'social reform', but neither had there surfaced much in the way of internal disputes. On the contrary, at its 7th annual conference in August 1919, Yûaikai, which had previously showed itself strongly opposed to socialism, welcomed the 'notorious' socialist Sakai Toshihiko as a guest. He was even invited to the conference social gathering, was asked to speak, and was warmly applauded.

2 'Syndicalism'

In this period 'new ideas' from abroad about 'social reform' were introduced one after the other in public lectures and in various media. These included anarchism, factory workers' unionism, guild socialism, syndicalism, bolshevism, the IWW movement, reform socialism, state socialism.

Amongst these new ideas, the one that caught on in the labor movement after 'democracy' was 'syndicalism. Its influence quickly spread not only in print workers' unions such as Shinyûkai and Seishinkai, which had long been affected by anarchist ideas, but also in 1920 among Yûaikai activists in the Kantô region around Tokyo, and in the Kyôto area of the Kansai region of central Japan. In the central Hanshin region the influence of guild socialism was strong, represented by Kagawa Toyohiko, and at Yûaikai's 8th annual conference in October 1920 in the debate over whether the movement should be led by council policy or by direct action, there was strong disagreement between the Kantô and Kansai areas. However, with the defeat of the Mitsubishi Kawasaki strike, Kagawa's influence on the labor movement waned, and the era of syndicalism began.

The syndicalist movement did not originally stem from a particular stream of philosophical ideas. Rather, it was a rationalization of a movement among campaigning workers who were critical of what they saw as the 'internalization' of European socialism.

Japanese 'syndicalism' was the same in this regard; rather than being a movement based on the philosophical underpinnings of western syndicalism, what was called 'syndicalism' in Japan was the collection of the various tendencies that were prevalent in the Japanese labor movement at the time. These were (1) the emphasis on the removal of the class system that was the labor union movement's prime goal, (2) the rejection of all political campaigning, including campaigning for universal manhood suffrage, (3) recognition for direct action such as machine-smashing, (4) opposition to intellectuals as leaders.

Noteworthy in this connection is the absence of the idea of the general strike, which was at the core of European syndicalist thinking. The central concept at the heart of original syndicalism had been that action through political parties was useless as a means to destroy class society; pure direct action by trade unions (syndicats in French) alone was held to be of decisive significance. Direct action meant strikes, sabotage and especially the general strike. By contrast, the general strike hardly figured in Japanese 'syndicalism', and instead, acts of violence by small groups of militants were emphasized; these were termed 'direct action'. Previously, 'sabotage', which included the obstruction of production by smashing machinery, had been restricted to organized go-slow actions, but it was now also applied to individuals' actions - an example of a translated term 'going its own way' in Japanese.

This tendency naturally reflected the situation in which the Japanese labor movement was placed. After the defeat of the Mitsubishi Kawasaki strike which had taken all of Yûaikai's energies, there was no question of adopting the method of a general strike. By contrast, acts of destruction by small groups of workers were thought to be the only remaining way in which workers could show that they themselves were not machines but human beings with their own minds. However, in fact, as is often said, disputes at that time were usually not accompanied by acts of destruction. There was only one case of organized planned destruction, which occurred in 1921 during the Adachi Works dispute. In the Fujinagata Shipyard and Mitsubishi Kawasaki Shipyard strikes 'seditious crimes' did occur, but all demonstrations were met by the police. However, although all of them ended in failure, during the Osaka Electric strike Nishio Suehiro and others planned acts of destruction using dynamite, as had Akamatsu Katsumaro and his colleagues during the Mitsubishi Kawasaki strike. They were opposed to Ôsugi Sakae and his anarchist comrades but were clearly 'syndicalists' in that they saw the goal of the labor movement to be revolution and approved of direct action by small groups. The day after the 'Founding Convention of the General Federation of Japanese Labor Unions' (Nihon Rôdô Kumiai Sôrengô), the 11th annual convention of the Japanese Federation of Labor (Sôdômei) the main 'bolshevist group' on October 1st, 1922 carried through a revision of its own founding principles that was certainly syndicalist: "We affirm the necessary conflict between the working class and the capitalist class. Through the strength of the labor unions we look to the complete liberation of the working class and the construction of a free and equal society." (emphasis - author)

At any rate, at this point in time the vanguard of the Japanese working class, having achieved a certain growth amongst the masses, for the first time recognized that the goal of their own class was the termination of capitalist society.

Why then, at this period did the labor movement suddenly move from ideas of labor-management cooperation to 'syndicalism'. Focusing on this question, Watanabe Tsutomu concluded that in late 1919, the year before 'the era of syndicalism', guild socialism became the leading intellectual current in the labor movement, and that this became the conduit through which 'syndicalism' was easily adopted.(28) Guild socialism had originated in Britain, the country which had served as a model for Japan's labor movement; Watanabe pointed out that its demands for the abolition of wage slavery, workers' autonomy and its anti-Marxist character appealed to Japanese workers and were easily adopted by them, and that the trigger for the changeover from guild socialism to syndicalism was the failure of the universal manhood suffrage campaign and the post-war recession in the first half of 1920.

It may seem presumptuous to say so but in my view, doubts remain as to whether guild socialism exerted as great an influence over the labor movement as a whole as has been argued or whether, despite the fact that guild socialism may have served as a conduit for the smooth uptake of 'syndicalism', it was really an essential element in the rapid 'syndicalization' that occurred. There is a more general question as to whether objective conditions restraining the movement have not been too lightly regarded as 'external elements', and too great an importance perhaps ascribed to the role of ideological trends and currents.

The post-war recession itself was certainly one of the 'external factors' that impinged on the movement. However, the way the workers felt about the movement during that period and about their own livelihoods was no mere external element. Rather than syndicalist theory having stimulated the 'syndicalization' of the labor movement, it is surely more reasonable to see the actual cause of the rapid acceptance of syndicalism as the workers' clear-eyed recognition that their previous strategy was getting them nowhere, given the constant repressive measures adopted by the authorities and the series of bitter defeats after merciless attacks by company bosses.

Moreover, an important element in explaining why anarchism and 'syndicalism' were taken up without demur is the fact that Japanese trade unions, beginning with Yûaikai, regarded the concept of the union as an 'organization for the sale of labor' as ineffective and now saw their main focus as raising workers' social status. Yûaikai's call for better status for workers developed out of the demand for recognition of 'respect for humanness' and 'equality' that arose during the blossoming of the Taishô Democracy but it has hardly been noticed that Sôdômei's revision of its founding principles represents something very different: "Through the strength of the labor unions, we look to the complete liberation of the working class and the construction of a free and equal society." There has therefore been almost no real discussion of the great significance of this revision. In fact, the worker's statement cited above (Rôdôsha Shimbun - "The Worker's Newspaper" - June 1919) was in exactly the same spirit as Ôsugi Sakai's article 'The Spirit of the Labor Movement', published as the first article of the first issue of Rôdô Undô (The Labor Movement) (October 1919). To be open to anarchism and syndicalism, radically-minded workers did not need to experience much in the way of a 'turning point' or 'conversion' in ideology.

3 'Bolshevism'

Although the labor movement as a whole may have become 'syndicalized', this did not mean the movement was somehow unified in its stance. Organizational and personal relations within the movement were complicated, and added to this, ideological and philosophical differences gradually began to surface in the form of the struggle between anarchists and bolshevists.

In support of the aims of the labor movement, both factions flew the flags of working class liberation, and the construction of a new, free and equal society; both were at one in their opposition to the universal manhood suffrage campaign movement. What divided them was their views on the Russian Revolution and on organizational theory with regard to the labor movement.

The dispute over organizational theory showed itself sharply at the September 1922 founding of the Nihon Rôdô Kumiai Sôrengô (Japan General Federation of Labor Unions). Ôsugi and the anarchists emphasized workers' autonomy and self-regulation and called for a 'free federation'. The bolshevists, on the other hand, argued that to fight the centralized authority of capitalism, the unions needed the strategic concentration of a combination with its own central authority. The founding convention of Sôrengô became a battle for leadership between the Sôdômei group who insisted on 'collectivism' and the anti-Sôdômei group whose principle was 'free federationism'. The fierce confrontation between the two groups only resulted in the frustration of the original plan to build a united labor front. There was much talk of a 'cooperative front' against the common enemy between these groups with their divergent viewpoints, but in fact this was largely ignored as both groups insisted abstractly on the superiority of the principles for union organization they deemed to be right.

The second point of opposition between the two groups was in their attitude towards the Russian Revolution. Japanese socialists, chafing under the Emperor system in their own country, had shown great interest in and sympathy with the Russian revolutionary movement which struggled against czarism and they had felt greatly encouraged by the victory of the Russian revolutionaries. Interest in the Russian Revolution and in Leninism, which had led the way to victory, grew not only among socialists who had long been interested in such matters but also among those young people who had joined the movement after the First World War. Among them was Yamakawa Hitoshi, who in his energetic research and writings introducing the Russian Revolution and bolshevism in the magazine Shakaishugi Kenkyû (Socialist Research), became the leading theorist of the bolshevist faction. Meanwhile, Ôsugi and the anarchists also supported the Russian Revolution at first. Oosugi engaged himself more positively with the Comintern than did Sakai and Yamakawa and in the second Rôdô Undô (Labor Movement) even went as far as cooperating with Kondô Eizô of the bolshevist faction. However, on learning of the repression of anarchist workers and peasants in Russia, Ôsugi criticized the Soviets, and clashed with the bolshevist faction.

Through their ideological disputes with the anarchists, the bolshevist faction gradually withdrew from the syndicalist position of opposition to political activity and in July 1922, responded to active encouragement from the Comintern by founding the Japan Communist party (JCP).(29)

In the history of the Japanese working class, the formation of the JCP signified the appearance of a completely new type of organization. Firstly, the JCP was an illegal secret society. Article 1 of the Public Order and Police Law stipulated that 'political groups' (seiji kessha) must register with the authorities, while Article 8 endowed the Minister for Home Affairs with the power to ban such groups. Previously, the activities of socialist groups, including the Socialist People's Party, had been limited by these regulations and had responded to them either by ensuring that their founding principles were of a compliant nature or else by resigning themselves to immediate suppression by registering without compromising their principles. The fact that the JCP was an illegal secret society rendered such considerations irrelevant. This was why, despite being insufficiently worked through, the 1922 draft program called for "the abolition of the monarchy". With the emergence of the JCP, the working class was able to establish its own authority, which for the first time became a real issue. The ruling class recognized this only too well. Although Sôdômei's revised founding principles, which on the face of it had a similar content, were ignored, the founding of the JCP made the passing of the Peace and Public Order Preservation Law inevitable.

Secondly, as the Japan branch of the Comintern, the JCP was part of an international revolutionary organization. Both those within and outside the ruling class could foresee that the fact that Japan was a late developer in capitalist terms meant that serious problems and future developments would emerge from the budding labor movement and the issues related to it, and also enabled both groups to learn from the experience of more developed countries. However, in seeking to realize such possibilities, the working class was at a great disadvantage. Japan's position as an East Asian island country that had its own very different culture and language was a formidable obstacle for those members of the Japanese working class who, hindered both economically and in terms of educational opportunities, sought to learn from the international movement. The socialist movement had not found it easy to spread among the working class, who were its logical supporters, and the fact that for a long time it had found its main support among intellectuals was deeply connected with this.

Meanwhile, the ruling class had already begun to show its hand even while the labor movement was still in its infancy. This was one reason why the laws against public disorder actually constituted ideological countermeasures.

The formation of the Japan branch of the Comintern played a part in redressing the delayed development of the Japanese working class. This is clear from the influence on the movement of the JCP's 1922 draft program, 1927 program, and 1932 program. Through the leadership of the Comintern, including the formulation of these programs, and through participation in the international communist movement, Japanese socialists moved, in ideological terms, beyond the stage of belonging to a movement for the education and enlightenment of the populace and, based on a scientific analysis of current conditions, learned how to organize and lead the movement in a more conscious manner. On the other hand, this brought no small disadvantages in terms of ideological differences over the question of obedience to the authority of the Comintern and the Soviet Union.

Thus the founding of the JCP was indeed a significant milestone in the history of the Japanese labor movement, but as the fact that there were only 58 members of the party six months after its founding shows, its organizational power was certainly not great. Furthermore, the newly-formed JCP lacked unity in its organization and in its ideology, and the fact that it served as little more than a central core providing a link between earlier ideological groups and workers' groups was later severely criticized in the 'Shanghai January Program'.

5 The Labor Movement and Changes in Public Order Policy

1 The System of Public Order Policy

The rapid development of the labor movement after the First World War urged on the ruling class the need for new countermeasures. The move to grant public recognition of labor unions in 1919 and the reversion to repressive measures after 1920 constituted at first a trial-and error approach but gradually, a new anti-labor strategy was developed.

However, before going into this, I would like to look at the government's anti-labor and public order policies, which, despite being an important factor that restricted the development of the labor movement, have been little studied by researchers.

In any discussion of public order legislation prior to the Second World War, the infamous Article 17 of the Police Law soon comes to mind, and many scholarly accounts of this frequently see it as similar to the British Combination Acts or else it is dubbed the 'Trade Union Capital Punishment Law' and is said to have provided for the ruthless suppression of strikes. However, this assessment is not necessarily accurate.

Firstly, Article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law did not prohibit workers' combinations as such. With regard to the purpose of the article - "Forced membership of, or prevention of, membership of unions for the purpose of carrying out joint action in relation to working conditions or remuneration" - the text merely forbids "acts of violence, intimidation or libel against others". Acts of violence, intimidation and libel were each held to be criminal offenses, and the punishments for them were generally heavier than those provided for by the Public Order and Police Law. In effect, this meant no more than that acts of violence or libel were offenses subject to prosecution only upon complaint, and only the phrase 'a suit is to be brought and will be determined' is omitted. Also, those organizations ordered to close in compliance with the Public Order and Police Law were mostly 'political societies'; the first case of a labor organization being ordered to disband was that of the Hyôgikai (Council of Labor Unions) in 1928. The main problem with Article 17 was its reference to the "enticing or encouraging of others" with intent to "engage in strike action". Since strikes always involved some kind of 'enticement or encouragement', this amounted to the prohibition of strike action. In the sense that a union prevented from taking strike action is not a real labor union, it is indeed possible to describe the law as a 'trade union capital punishment law'.

Table 4  Nos. of arrests in connection with strike action
Police Department Survey Years & arrests:
(upper row = first six months; lower row = second six months)
Year Sedition Sedition
acts of

[source: Labor Dept., Social Affairs Office Shôwa san-nen rôdô undô nenpô (1929 Labor Movement Annual Bulletin) pp.414-415 "Table of Criminal Arrests in connection with Strikes, 1915-1928". However, some of the figures for 1928 in the original table are in error; pages 413-414 of the document ("Table of Criminal Arrests in connection with Strikes in 1928") were examined to verify and correct the figures.

Was freedom then protected under the Public Order and Police Law more than has been thought the case? Certainly not. The very existence of Article 17, which could be invoked at any time, was a serious hindrance to the labor movement, and the article was invoked to the maximum extent by owners and police in order to suppress the labor movement. However, it is important here to pay attention to the system of public order laws that culminated in the Public Order and Police Law and the Peace Preservation Law and also to the fact that the application of such laws by the authorities was extremely arbitrary. It was not only Article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law and the Peace Preservation Law that restricted the labor movement. A number of other, supplementary public order laws that were applied on a daily basis ought not to be overlooked, such as the Executive Administration Law (Gyôsei Shikôhô). This law, first enacted like the Public Order and Police Law in 1900, provided for the detention of "those deemed likely to disturb public order by acts of violence, affray and other such acts". This empowered the police to detain people who had committed no crime merely by designating them as 'deemed likely to disturb public order' and was favored by the police as a means to smash industrial action by putting strike leaders and their supporters in lockups. The period of detention was limited to "sunset of the following day", but detainees were released only as a formality and by re-arresting them, the police could detain them for several days. Police control orders were frequently used on labor activists, and the charge of contravening police regulations enabled police station chiefs to detain people and impose fines without recourse to a trial.

With the abolition of Article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law and the simultaneous enactment of legislation with regard to penalties for acts of violence, the number of cases of 'crimes in connection with strikes' and of those arrested in such cases rapidly rose. 1926 saw the highest recorded level, and the number of those arrested was second only to 1918, the year of the rice riots. The abolition of Article 17 legalized strike action but it brought no let-up in the authorities' attempts to control industrial action.

Within the system of laws regulating public order, a large number were those limiting freedom of speech and assembly. The Public Order and Police Law was important in this regard; it stipulated the legal obligation that any public assembly was to be registered beforehand with the authorities, and that the police would be present, for 'supervision', with the power to order speakers to desist from making remarks "deemed likely to disturb public order or offend against morality" and even, if necessary, to break up the meeting altogether. The labor movement was also shackled by the Newspapers Law and Publications Law. If they wished 'to publish items on current events', union newspapers and journals were obliged by the Newspapers Law to pay a maximum of 2000 yen and a minimum of 250 yen as security. If it was judged that 'the published item [would] disturb public order' then all sales of the publication, together with handbills and posters for it would be prohibited. Such prohibitions could only be avoided by blanking out the relevant text.

Under these restrictions, it was not easy to engage in public discussion of union objectives and to correct mistakes. It was thus difficult to build up a common store of experience within the movement, and the same mistakes were inevitably repeated numerous times.

2 The Labor Movement's Turning Point

From the autumn of 1923 to 1924, the government's policy with regard to the labor movement underwent a change, the major indicators of which came in October 1923 with the declaration on universal manhood suffrage issued by the Yamamoto cabinet, and the cooptation of unions in the appointment of representatives to the ILO during the period of the Kiyoura cabinet in February 1924.

Normally, this change of policy is characterized as a move from a regime of all-out repression to one of 'carrot and stick'. It is noteworthy that the change came about not through new legislation but through a simple statement of intent and adoption of new administrative measures by the government. Why did this turning point not occur in 1925 with the passing of the Universal Manhood Suffrage Law or in 1926 with the abolition of Article 17 of the Public Order and Police Law? In terms of the move towards official recognition of trade unions, could not the announcement in 1919 that the application of Article 17 would be relaxed, or else the presentation of the Labor Unions Bill in 1920 also be seen as significant episodes?

That the actual turning point was in 1923-24 is borne out by the fact that the government's measures implemented in that period succeeded in bringing about a change in direction on the side of the labor movement. To put it another way, the effectiveness of the measures is clear from the fact that they induced the labor movement to change direction and brought to an end the period of trial and error that had characterized official labor policy since the end of the First World War. The passing of the Universal Manhood Suffrage Law and the Peace Preservation Law in 1925 and the rescinding of Article 17 from the Public Order and Police Law in 1926 were, so to speak, the results of the change.

A characteristic of the labor movement's 'change of direction' was the change in the objectives of Sôdômei. In November, less than a month after the Yamamoto Cabinet's declaration on universal manhood suffrage, the Sôdômei central committee decided to respond to the beginning of universal manhood suffrage by exercising its right to vote. This decision was confirmed at the 13th Sôdômei annual convention in February of the following year and the organization's previous opposition to the ILO was revised to allow 'use' (riyô) of the international body. This change was announced on Februrary 16th , four days after the close of the convention.The General Confederation of Public Service Employees' Unions (Kangyô Rôdô Sôdômei) held its own convention at the same time and also voted to make use of the ILO; most likely, the decision to accept the government's method of selecting ILO delegates had been communicated to some of the unions in advance.

Sôdômei's 'change of direction' followed the government's declaration on universal manhood suffrage, but there were a number of factors at work behind the decision for change. Firstly, from 1921-1922 Sôdômei had experienced major organizational setbacks, especially in its main center of operations, Tokyo. According to the 1923 Labor Movement Survey, at the end of 1922 Sôdômei members in Tokyo numbered just 852. The main force within the organization were the engineering workers, but they only amounted to the 35 members of the Tokyo Ironworkers' Union and the 165 members of the Tokyo Electric Workers' Union - a dire situation. The arrest in January 1921 of many workers in the Adachi Ironworks strike and also during the Sonoike Engineering Works strike, where the factory was occupied and subsequently wrecked, the break-up of the Tokyo Rengô Conference amid scenes of great dissension in July that year, the establishment in November at the Shibaura Engineering Works and the Ikegami Ironworks of company unions, which many union members had joined after quitting Sôdômei, were all evidence of an organization in retreat. Although Tanahashi Kotora's article 'Return to the Union!' in the January 1921 issue of Rôdô (Labor) angered the more radical workers, the fact that Yamakawa Hitoshi's article 'A Change of Direction for the Proletarian Movement' in Zen'ei (Vanguard) (double issue, July and August 1922) gained wide support even among rightwing members of Sôdômei was because the movement was groping towards a new direction.

Secondly, the hostility between Sôdômei and the 'Free Federation Faction' within the Sôrengô movement led to an increase of the bolshevist wing within Sôdômei. At the same time, the organization moderated its oppositional stance to political campaigning. All unions, including Sôdômei, participated positively in the 1923 'campaign against the '3 Bad Laws'' (31), the Extreme Social Movements Control Laws. This trend spread not only through Sôdômei but through the labor movement as a whole. This positive stance towards political action showed that the movement had already begun to change.

Thirdly, the 'whip' was in evidence in the first arrests in June 1923 of members of the Communist Party and in the influence of terrorist activity following the Great Kanto Earthquake of September that year. Especially following the earthquake, and not only in the Ôsugi and Kamedo murder incidents, many socialists and labor activists were attacked or lynched by troops and police. The influence of such behaviour was varied and serious. Some were moved by fear to quit the labor movement; some even went as far as actively engaging in anti-communist activities. On the other hand, however, through the arrests and official violence, other workers got to know of the Communist Party for the first time, and the authorities' ruthless terror tactics confirmed many in their resolve to join the labor movement. An important factor for the 'turning point' of the movement was that these violent incidents in the aftermath of the Tokyo earthquake of 1923 forcefully reminded the labor movement and the socialist movement of their lack of support among the wider public. This new awareness was common throughout the movements on both their left and right wings. The problem was how to respond to it.

Fourthly, in the wider sense of the influence of the earthquake, it had the effect of increasing contact with government bureaucrats, as representatives of both sides, including Suzuki Bunji and Home Minister Gotô, were stimulated by the earthquake to discuss ways to tackle unemployment. The 'carrot and the stick' were applied not only in relation to 'policies' on universal manhood suffrage and the ILO, but also in 'improving relations' between a section of the leadership of the labor movement and the government bureaucracy. The ILO was very important in that it provided a stage on which the two sides could meet and communicate. Relations between labor unions and the Cooperation and Harmony Group, which Suzuki had refused to participate in when it had been founded, also changed and improved. For example, Hamada Kunitarô applied to the Cooperation and Harmony Group for 20,000 yen of funds to support the activities of the Japan Seamen's Union. As part of a 'post-earthquake relief effort', Suzuki Bunji too set up a 'Fishermen's Section' within Sôdômei and is known for having sought from the Governor of Korea, Saitô Minoru, between 12,000 and 15,000 yen over the course of a year as a 'token of earthquake relief aid' for 'aid relief for fishermen, family register surveys, job introductions, promoting mutual understanding, ideological education, and dealing with emotional problems'.(33)

The foregoing examples show that despite internal disputes between left and right, Sôdômei managed for the time being to carry out its change of direction based on agreement on the concrete objectives of securing manhood suffrage and making use of the ILO.

3 Dissension within Sôdômei and the Characteristics of the Different Factions

The change in the government's labor policy affected not only Sôdômei but the entire labor movement. The official appointment of ILO delegates was understood to mean de facto government recognition of trade unions. As a result, in 1924 alone 1,020,000 workers became union members; the 1,260,000 unionized workers at the end of 1923 had become 2,280,000 a year later, the percentage of unionized workers showing a large increase from 3.2% to 5.4%. (34) However, the growth in the union movement was not actually as rapid as the figures portended. Of the 1,020,000, 470,000 belonged to military arsenal mutual aid unions which, with support from the authorities, quickly transformed themselves into trade unions.

On the other hand, while Sôdômei's 'change of course' may have been supported by factions on both the right and the left, in the subsequent actual process, antagonism between the two groups gradually deepened to the point where, in May 1925, the organization split in two. This was the first Sôdômei split. The figures show that at the end of 1924, Sôdômei members numbered just 290,000, which was only 13% of the total unionized workforce (35). Sôdômei was an outstanding organization not only because of its long history, but also because it had real substance as a labor union, as shown by the frequency of its participation in labor disputes. That Sôdômei was the representative organization of Japanese trade unionism was recognized by all, as shown by the fact that Suzuki Bunji was chosen to be the first publicly appointed ILO delegate. This was why the 'change of course' by Sôdômei was at the same time a 'change of course' by the Japanese labor movement as a whole and also why a split in Sôdômei meant a split in the Japanese labor movement.

That was not all. The split in the union was intimately connected with the independent establishment of a 'Proletarian Party'. The conflict between left and right which led to the first Sôdômei split resulted in the split of the 'Proletarian Party'. This split then in turn caused the second split in Sôdômei. Thus the Japanese labor movement divided into three groupings: left, right and center. For each of the factions in the Proletarian Party to be able to guarantee their support bases they had to turn to other labor unions and farmers' unions, all of whom, wanting access to a political soapbox, linked up with the Proletarian Party of someone or other. The Sôdômei split had the knock-on effect of involving groups that hitherto had been unaffected by such disputes and it eventually split the entire 'proletarian class movement'.

The division that thus formed was to become the 'basic form' of division that went on to affect the labor movement after the end of the Second World War and has continued to do so until today. The first split that opened up in Sôdômei has thus had an immense importance and consequently deserves detailed examination. Moreover, the three years between the Sôdômei split and the break-up of the Hyôgikai, whether for good or ill, were a period when the three factions - left, right and center - while keeping up their mutual competition, actively and consciously strove to develop the movement. Although, in a sense, this period saw the richest development of the labor movement in its entire history up to the Second World War, research into the period has only just begun and even many of the facts remain to be clarified.

However, as I have already spent long enough on it in this essay, I shall now turn to characterizing in very general terms the three factions of Sôdômei that emerged after the second split.

The right wing faction of Nihon Rôdô Sôdômei was led by Suzuki Bunji. Matsuoka Komakichi, Nishio Suehiro, Miki Jirô, and Kanemasa Yonekichi, all activists from the early days of Yûaikai and skilled workers at major companies. They were proud of being 'realists', advocated 'sound labor unionism', and strove to maintain and develop a stable organization on that basis. Practically speaking, this meant they sought to control strikes as much as possible and to develop a movement that would be bound by group agreements. Their strong opposition to communism within Sôdômei and their application of a 'realist' policy line was much esteemed by the government bureaucracy and by some capitalist owners. However, major companies, where factory committees and company unions had become the norm did not like their employees linking up with outside influences and despite the known stance of this 'realist' faction within Sôdômei, did not allow the union to organize on their premises. Consequently, those who had mainly linked themselves to Sôdômei by group agreements were smaller-scale companies, who feared the penetration of Hyôgikai by more militant unions and who had already had their hands burned by industrial disputes. (36)

Sôdômei joined forces with the Seamen's Union and the Public Workers' Federation of Labor (Kangyô Rôdô Sôdômei) in support of the Socialist People's Party (Shakai Minshutoo) and organized the various groups within the labor movement in concerted support of the process of selecting delegates to the ILO. After the break-up of the Hyôgikai, Sôdômei became indisputably the leading force within the Japanese labor movement. However, it is doubtful that Sôdômei was ever able to function as 'an organization for the sale of labor', as was the case with the model of the British trade union.

The center faction was the Nihon Rôdô Kumiai Dômei (The Federation of Japanese Labor Unions, hereinafter FJLU) which was founded along with the Nihon Rônôtô (Japan Labor-Farmer Party) at the time of the second Sôdômei split in December 1926. Power in this faction was in the hands of Asô Hisashi, Kôno Hisoka, Asanuma Inejiro, and Katô Kanjû, intellectuals from the early Shinjinkai (New Man Society - democratic students' movement, founded 1912) and the Kensetsusha Dômei (Constructivists' Federation). However, the focus of their activities was political, and the main figures in the FJLU's labor activities were the intellectuals Tanahashi Kotora and Kikukawa Tadao, and the 'strike leaders' Kaji Yoshio, Takanashi Futao (Miners' Union), Mochizuki Genji (Kantô Collective), Iwauchi Zensaku (spinning and weaving). Fujioka Bunroku, and Aki Sakari (Hyôgo Prefecture).

The leading unions within this federation were the Nihon Kôfu Kumiai (Japan Mineworkers' Union), Kantô Gôdô Rôdô Kumiai (Kantô Combined Labor Union), Kantô Bôshoku Rôdô Kumiai (Kantô Spinning and Weaving Workers' Union) who numbered officially some 20,000 at the Federation's founding in January 1927. However, their actual strength is normally regarded to have been less than half that number. The leading unions in this group were concentrated in the region in and around Tokyo and they lacked the capacities of a national organization until they linked up with the Rôdô Kumiai Zenkoku Dômei (Labor Unions' National Federation), following the third Sôdômei split in September 1929, to form the Zenkoku Rôdô Kumiai Dômei (National Federation of Labor Unions) in June 1930. The Federation was severely hampered by the fact that, while it aimed to take in factory workers from all over the country, it completely lacked any organization in the Osaka region, where strikes were by far the most numerous. Furthermore, it had no base of support among metal-miners, traditionally a pillar of the labor movement, and the organizational structures of its own main unions were very unstable. As a result, the Japan Labor-Farmers' Party was forced to look beyond the Federation for its base of support, joined forces with those elements opposed to Sôdômei, such as Nihon Rôdô Kumiai Sôrengô (Japan General Federation of Labor Unions), Shichû Dômei (Ship's Stewards' Federation), and the Seitô Rôdô Dômei (Federation of Pottery Workers), and adding to these those parts of the Nihon Nômin Kumiai (Japan Agricltural People's Union) which had become its labor movement and labor relations section around the time of the First World War (and which in March 1927 became the Zen-Nihon Nômin Kumiai (All-Japan Agricultural People's Union), organized the Nihon Rônô Sôrengô (Japan General Federation of Workers and Farmers).

The left wing faction was the Nihon Rôdô Kumiai Hyôgikai (Japan Council of Labor Unions), formed at the time of the first Sôdômei split. This was, of course, controlled by the Japan Communist Party (JCP) and, together with the Labor-Farmers' Party, functioned de facto as the legal 'face' of the JCP, itself an illegal organization. For the JCP however, the period from 1924, when hostility between left and right within Sôdômei intensified, until 1928, when Hyôgikai broke up, was one of fierce philosophical, ideological and organizational disputes which frequently rocked the JCP-led Hyôgikai.

The direct leaders of Hyôgikai were Watanabe Seinosuke, Sugiura Keiichi, Nabeyama Sadachika, Kokuryô Goichirô, and Mitamura Shirô, most of whom lacked any popular support and were workers from 'small unions that resembled ideological groups'. Numerous intellectuals and students from the later Shinjinkai also participated in this left-wing faction, most of them as unpaid union secretaries and tutors of research groups; the status of intellectuals within unions had changed considerably since the days of Yûaikai. From its very beginnings, Hyôgikai energetically involved itself with strike actions and expanded its organization. Home Ministry figures show that from the time of the split until the end of 1926 it had increased its membership from 10,778 to 22,361, and with the second split had drawn level with Sôdômei, membership of which had contracted. While Sôdômei was strong in big cities such as Osaka and Tokyo, Hyôgikai expanded its organizational network in provincial cities in Hokkaidô, Tôhoku, Chûbu, Chûgoku, and Kyûshû. Like Sôdômei, its main support base was with workers employed at small to medium companies, but in the Kyôhama region it also scôped up members at the Ishikawajima Shipyard and the Shibaura Works.

Hyôgikai lasted for just three years, but what it contributed to the Japanese labor movement during that period was by no means slight. Above all, it provided the movement for the first time with thorough organization and leadership based on clear-cut principles and policy. In addition to combatting unemployment, it advocated and carried out campaigns demanding that the government and companies bear the total cost of health insurance once the health insurance law was passed, and calling for the enactment of 'the 5 laws' (an unemployment benefit law, a minimum wage law, an 8-hour day law, a revision of the health insurance law, and a law for the protection of female and juvenile workers). To keep up the pressure for strikes in the face of severe repression, Hyôgikai engaged in its now well-known organizational tactics such as setting up secret leadership groups to lead strike groups through daily strike bulletins, and the establishment of autonomous factory delegate councils and factory committees.

Despite such energetic activity, there was little in the way of direct results. Yet the influence of the Hyôgikai campaigns on the Japanese labor movement as a whole cannot be underestimated. Naturally enough, Nihon Kôtsû Sôrengô (Japan Federation of Transport Workers, in which the left wing faction had a powerful influence, and the Kumiai Dômei and Sôdômei were very much aware of Hyôgikai's activities. The very existence of Hyôgikai was an important element that accounted for the ruling class's estimation of the role played by Sôdômei. In that sense, the Secret Societies Control Order issued on April 10, 1928, ostensibly directed against the Central Committee of Hyôgikai and the nine regional councils under its umbrella, was not just aimed at them but was the first shot in a campaign of repression against the whole Japanese labor movement.


A general overview of documents referring to the developmental stages and characteristics of the labor movement as seen through a study of labor disputes, and its methods and an historical survey of research on the subject is given in K. Nimura, 'Rôdô undôshi (Senzen-ki)' (The History of the Japanese Labor Movement - The Pre-War Period) in Rôdô Mondai Bunken Kenkyûkai (Labor Issues Study Group) eds., "Bunken kenkyû - Nihon no rôdô mondai [Zôhoban]" (Documental Research - Japan Labor Issues [enlarged edition]); the present paper therefore refers mainly to subsequent research.

(2) Initially, I also intended to make a study of workers' conditions and began preparations for that, but I eventually had to abandon the idea. The main reason was the impossibility of making use of the wages statistics available for the period. For the period covered in the present paper, available known figures for years after 1900 are the 'Shoyô chingin' (Employment and Wages) - wages statistics from Chambers of Commerce nationwide drawn up on the orders of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, which make it possible to compare wage rates in different periods. However, the reliability of the data is lamentable, leading even the head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce Office of Statistics at the time, Kure Fumisato to comment: "All the reports from the Chambers of Commerce are extremely limited; they give rise to a multitude of questions and many are hardly even reliable". Furthermore, they lack the essential demarcation between wage rates and wage income. Such a presentation of figures clearly does not illuminate the actual wages situation; on the contrary, it risks conveying an incorrect picture of the facts. Also, the fact that in 1920, the year the post-war recession developed, these statistics changed the form of surveying statistical data made it impossible to carry out a comparison of periods at the very time when such a comparison was needed.

(3) Sumiya Mikio (commentary) "Shokkô oyobi kôfu chôsa" (Factory Workers and Mineworkers Surveys) (Kôseikan, 1970) (see review by Nimura Kazuo). There are many omissions in these surveys. In his "Nihon rôdô undôshi nenpyô - dai-ikkan" (A Chronological Table of the History of the Japanese Labor Movement - Vol.1) (Shinseisha, 1968), Aoki Kôji made an authoritative and comprehensive study of labor disputes that occurred during the period dealt with in this paper, noting that 238 cases of industrial action took place in 1907 including those that did not involve strikes. However, these include 'industrial action' by traditional comic storytellers and prostitutes, so that actual cases of industrial action numbered some 200, of which 150 were strikes.

(4) Yokoyama Gennosuke 'Tôkyô no kôbachi oyobi kôba seikatsu no panorama' (A Panorama of Tokyo Factories and Factory Life) in "Nihon rôdô undô shiryô - dai-sankan" (Historical Documents of the Japanese Labor Movement - Vol. 3)(1968), p.13.

(5) Hyôdô Tsutomu, "Nihon ni okeru rôshi kankei no tenkai", (The Development of Labor Relations in Japan) (University of Tokyo Press, 1971), pp.203-213 (see review of this book by Nimura Kazuo) (6) In 1906 there were 23,000 workers at both the Kure and Tokyo arsenals, 16,000 at the Osaka arsenal, and 13,000 at the Ashio copper mine. These were the main concentrations of male workers in the mining and public works sectors.

(7) One reason why strikes occurred so often in the mining industry and at arsenals was due to the frequency of serious industrial accidents in those industries. Many labor activists first became involved in the labor movement through such accidents and disasters, examples being Yamamoto Riichi (Shiseikai - Greater Japan Society of Devotion to Japanese Labor), Fukuda Tatsuo, Andô Kunimatsu, Koizumi Shichizô, (all of Yûaikai - The Friendly Society), Takashima Shinji (Zenkoku Kôfu Kumiai - National Union of Miners), and Kitajima Kichizô (Nankatsu Rôdôkai - South Arrowroot Labor Society). The themes of Hirasawa Keishichi's works also testify to the importance of this problem in the labor movement during those years.

(8) There is a view that seeks to explain the strikes of this period by relating them to the recession of 1907, but this is surely mistaken. During the first half of 1907 the company boom of the second half of the previous year was still continuing. Behind the call by Minami and others for a combined withdrawal of labor was the fact that "after the war mining companies sprouted up in various places, and were keen to attract workers". The recession was in fact one reason for the fall-off in the number of disputes in 1908.

(9) Hiroshima-ken Shakai Undôshi Kankôkai (Hiroshima Prefecture Society for the Publication of Historical Research into Social Movements), "Hiroshima-kenshita no meiji shakaishugi undô to kure kaigun kôshô no sutoraiki" (The Socialist Movement in Hiroshima Prefecture 1868-1912 and Strikes at the Kure Arsenal) 1966. (10) Rôdô Undô Shiryô Iinkai (Committee for Materials of the History of the Labor Movement), "Nihon rôdô undô shiryô - dai-nikan" (Historical Documents of the Japanese Labor Movement - Vol. 2), 1963, p. 93.

(11) As can be seen from the Dômei shinkôgumi (??????????????) it was not that there were no examples. The situation was a little different with mineworkers. Mechanization of extraction work did not take place until the 1910s, so the continuity to some extent of the technical aspects of the work and the fact that, as a country with a number of copper mines, Japan had since the Tokugawa era (1603-1867) built up a relatively large body of waged mineworkers, meant that miners had their own independent movement with its own autonomous organizations, the tomoko dômei (miners' brotherhoods). However, even here the habit of workers regulating their own working conditions was weak, and although there was the stipulation that apprentices should serve for 'three years, three months and ten days', this was usually an empty phrase. This situation was deeply connected with the fact that in Japan unions were very weak organizations in terms of being suppliers of labor. The idea that there was no lineal relationship between the craft guild and the labor union is well known from Webb's critique of Brentano, but we ought surely to lay due emphasis on the fact that craft unions would not have developed without the social customs and the traditions of autonomous regulation that had become established through the craft guilds.

(12) Of note in the careers of metal workers is that many of them got their start in state-owned factories. Also, many union activists were men who had been school dropouts or who had been unable to continue their education due to their family's economic circumstances, although it is not necessarily clear whether this merely reflected a tendency throughout the labor movement or whether it was particularly strong among activists. The fact that law students from Imperial universities were easily able to become labor leaders, and that on the other hand, the fact that the idea that the intellectual classes ought to be excluded from the labor movement had a great influence, was intimately bound up with this tendency.

(13) Hyôdô Tsutomu op cit., p.90, pp.322-323. The numbers of workers in private factories are taken from the Kôjô kantoku nenpô (Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin). See n. (15).

(14) Ishida K??? ed., "Muroran chihô rôdô undôshi" (The History of the Labor Movement in the Muroran Area), 1961, pp.18-26. I am grateful to Ikeda Makoto for his indication here.

(15) These figures (950,000 factory workers in 1914 at the outbreak of war and 162,000 in 1919) are those for factories employing 5 workers and above, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce Kôjô tôkeihyô (Table of Factory Statistics). They are always being quoted to indicate the growth in the size of the working class during the First World War, but there are in fact grave doubts as to their reliability. For example, if the prefectural and metropolitan figures for the end of 1919 are compared with the numbers of factory workers in the Kôjô kantoku nenpô (Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin) (No. 4) which are stated to be those for 'factories normally employing 15 workers and above', then in the six regions of Hokkaidô, Toyama, Yamanashi, Nagano, Nagasaki, and Oita the Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin figures are more numerous. The Nagasaki Prefecture figures are especially problematic: whereas the Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin gives 25,505, the Table of Factory Statistics shows just 8856. Of these, 281 were merchant shipyard workers, so clearly the figures for the Mitsubishi Nagasaki shipyard are not included. In the Table of Factory Statistics for 1920, Nagasaki Prefecture shows a total of 26,967 of whom merchant shipyard workers number 17,768. Consequently, the number of engineering and tool factory workers shown in the Table of Factory Statistics had risen from 256,876 in 1919 to 265,137 in 1920, whereas the Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin shows a 40,000 drop from 28,000 in 1919 to 24,000 in 1920 (See Table 2). Figures in the Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin, which were checked at factory inspection visits by the factory superintendant's staff surely ought to be relied on more than figures in the Table of Factory Statistics, which were collated directly from those supplied by factories (self-collation system). And yet, the totals for factory workers compiled for the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce Statistical Tables, which surveyed factory workers at factories employing 10 or more workers, are, apart from 1918, oddly, less than those of the Factory Superintendant's Annual Bulletin for workers at factories which every year were employing 15 and above.

(16) Figures for laborers, who were not classed as factory workers: Kôjô tôkeihyô (Table of Factory Statistics); for workers at state-run factories: Dai-san kyû kai nihon teikoku tôkeikan (39th Imperial Japanese Statistical Yearbook); for mineworkers: Honpô kôgyô no sûsei (Trends in the Japanese Mining Industry) ; for communications workers: Teishinshô nenpô (Ministry of Communications Yearbook). For all these figures, see Rôdô Undô Shiryô Iinkai (Labor Movement Historical Records Committee), "Nihon rôdô undô shiryô - dai-jikkan" (Documents of the Japanese Labor Movement - Vol. 10) 1959. Figures for transport workers were given as those for 'workers' in the transport industry section of the first survey of national trends: Naikaku tôkeikyoku, (Cabinet Office of Statistics) Taishô kyûnen kokusei chôsa hôkoku - Zenkoku no bu dai-nikan (1921 National Trends Survey Report - National Section Vol. 2) 1929. However, in these national trends surveys, figures for transport workers in other industries were included, so the figures for workers in the transport industry are excessive.

(17) Prime Minister Hara, responding to a question from Yamawaki Gen in the House of Peers on Jan. 24th, 1919. "Kanpô" newspaper parliamentary report, Jan.25th, 1919 Dai-yonjû-ikkai teikokugikai kizokuin giji sokkiroku (Stenographic record of the 41st Imperial Parliamentary Session) No. 3.

(18) Reply by Home Affairs Minister Tokonami to a question by Kataoka Naoharu at the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Feb. 3rd, 1919. Dai-yonjû-ikkai teikokugikai shûgiin yosaniinkai dai-ni bunkakai kaigiroku (Record of the Meetings of the 2nd Subcommittee of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, 41st Imperial Parliamentary Session) p.17.

(19) Ôhara shakai mondai kenkyûjo (Ohara Institute for Social Research), "Nihon rôdô nenkan" (Labor Yearbook of Japan), 1918 p.905

(20) Seamen were not normally employed by particular shipping companies but signed employment contracts for particular voyages, so the conditions were hardly available for the establishment of company-based unions for them. As they immediately became unemployed at the end of a voyage, they keenly appreciated the need for an organization that would help them find new opportunities for work. From early on, the Seamen's Union had in effect monopolized the supply of labor with regard to ship's officers, and many labor groups existed whose main function was job-seeking on behalf of ordinary crewmen. At the second ILO general assembly meeting in 1920 a "treaty to establish labor exchanges for seamen" was adopted which ruled that shipowners and seamen's delegate groups should cooperate in establishing a system of labor exchanges for seamen that would be free of charge. Accordingly, in May 1921 the Nihon Kaiin Dômei Yûaikai (Japan Seamen's Federation of Friendly Societies - the Seamen's section of Yûaikai), together with 23 other groups, cooperated in setting up the Nihon Kaiin Kumiai (Japan Seamen's Union. In the shipping freight business the ships that were the mainstay of the industry's productivity were controlled by workers, over whom it was difficult for owners to maintain any kind of direct supervision, and it was also problematic to bring in the police when industrial disputes occurred; seamen were therefore in a relatively more favourable situation than land-based workers. As there was a limit to how far owners could go in maximizing their profit by lowering working conditions on individual voyages or in individual companies, they too opted to support the idea of a single union with which they could negotiate, in order to be able to hold down working conditions across the industry as a whole. These were the reasons why a comparatively strong industry-wide union organization was established and could be maintained (See Sasaki Hiroshi, "Sen'in seisaku to kaiin kumiai" (The Management of Seamen and the Seamen's Union) Seisandô Shoten, 1962.

(21) Aoki Tetsuo, 'Rôdô kumiai dômeikai no rekishiteki igi' in Rekishi hyôron (History Review) No. 265, August 1972.

(22) See Hyôdô Tsutomu, op cit., Ikeda Makoto, "Nihon kikaikô kumiai seiritsu shiron" (The History of the Founding of the Japan Engineering Workers' Union) (Nihon Hyôronsha, 1970).

(23) See Fukumoto Shigeo, 'Sôdômei Osaka rengôkai to rôdô iinkai(1)(2)' (The Osaka Federation of the Japan General Federation of Labor and Labor Committees(1)(2)) in "Oosaka hyakunenshi kiyô - dai-ni go, dai-san go" (100 Years of Osaka 's History) Nos.2 and 3.

(24) Before the Second World War the Japanese capitalist class did not relent one whit in its strong antagonism over 'the issue of [workers'] rights'. This was especially clear in its fierce opposition to the passing of labor legislation. What the owners feared was not just the content of the legislation itself but the very fact that such concepts were made legal at all. They were afraid that such legislation would clarify the rights and responsibilities of labor-management relations and would strengthen workers' awareness of their rights. The failure to pass a labor union law was also due in large part to the opposition from capitalist families. They were even opposed to the legalization of the Sangyô Hôkokkai (Industrial Patriotic Association). There were solid grounds for their fears. The first strike led by Nagaoka Tsuruzô had demanded that they abide by mining industry regulations. How far the Factory Law of 1916 succeeding in cultivating workers' awareness of their rights is clear from the Factory Law Special Issue of Rôdô oyobi Sangyô (Labor and Industry) No.2. Workers showed great dissatisfaction with the Factory Law, but they approved its laying down of regulations that owners were now obliged to observe, and they demanded a further strengthening of the rules.

(25) In the mining industry there was no system of factory committees; in 1919-1920 'company unions' were widely introduced, which were a combination of 'mutual understanding council' and mutual aid union. At Ishikawajima shipyard, Yokohama docks, Uraga docks, some of the heavy industry companies in the Kyôhama region, 'mutual understanding councils' existed alongside company-based labor unions. At military arsenals and at Yahata Ironworks labor unions were recognized within a certain set framework.

(26) Shakai seisaku gakkai (Social Policy Studies Group) eds., "Rôdô sôgi" (Labor Disputes) Dôbunkan, 1914, p.205.

(27) The main demands in the Japan Railways strike were for 'equal treatment with office staff', and for the renaming of job titles - from 'kikankata' (engine operative) to 'kikanshi' (engine driver), 'kafu' (fireman or stoker) to 'norikumikikansei', (lit. engine assistant) and 'sôjifu' (lit. 'cleaning person') to 'kikansei' (engine cleaner). At Ashio, the demand by Shiseikai (the Greater Japan Society of Devotion to Japanese Labor) for 'a better rice supply' meant an end to the former system whereby Japanese rice had been supplied to office staff only while workers had been provided with foreign, 'Nanking rice'. The direct cause of the Kawasaki shipyard strike in 1921 was the inequitable distribution of money on the occasion of the shipyard's 25th year of operation and the company's cold-hearted response to the deaths of some workers in accidents on the job. Such tendencies still exist strongly in disputes today. For example, frustrations over working conditions are often expressed in terms of management's 'lack of sincerity' (sei-i no nasa).

(28) Watanabe Tôru, '1918-nen yori 21-nen ni itaru rôdô undô shisô no sui-i' (Ideological Change in the Labor Movement 1918-1921) in Inoue Kiyoshi ed., "Taishôki no seiji to shakai" (Politics and Society in the Taisho Era 1912-1925), Iwanami Shoten, 1969.

(29) Numerous papers have appeared on the formation of the 'first Communist Party', for example, Inumaru Yoshikazu, 'Nihon kyôsantô no seiritsu o megutte' in Gendai to shisô (Modern Times and Ideas) No. 21.

(30) Shakai kyoku (Social Office), Taishô jûgonen rôdô undô nenpô (Labor Movement Yearbook 1926), p.439.

(31) Matsuo Takayoshi, '1923-nen no 3-akuhô hantai undô' (The campaign against the Three Bad Laws) in Watanabe Tôru and Asukai Masamichi eds., "Nihon shakaishugi undô shiron" (Historical Essays on the Japanese Socialist Movement) San-ichi Shobô, 1973.
N.b. The original text states: "After the earthquake, there occurred not only the Ôsugi and Kamedo murders but also attacks on, and lynchings of many socialists and labor activists by the military and the police and also by vigilante groups." That there were attacks on Koreans and Chinese by vigilante groups after the earthquake is a fact, but as it has not been established that socialists and labor activists were attacked, I have deleted the words underlined. My thanks go to Satô Fuyuki, who made me aware of this error. (Sept. 28, 2006)

(32) Arakawa Minoru, 'Nihon kaiin kumiai kinjô' (The Japan Seamen's Union Today) in Kyôchôkai bunai bunsho, "Kaiin rôdô dantai (1)" (Seamen's Labor Groups (1)).

(33) Yamabe Kentarô, "Nihon tôjika no chôsen" (Korea under Japanese Occupation) Iwanami Shoten, 1971, pp. 139-141.

(34) In my view, notice ought to be taken of the fact that pre-war and post-war standards differ when it comes to denominators for calculating numbers of unionized workers. According to estimations made by Nishioka Takao based on national surveys, the highest pre-war organizational level was 7.9% (1931), which by post-war standards would be 4.5% (Nihon Rôdô Kyôkai (Japan Labor Society), "Nihon no rôdô kumiai soshiki" (Japanese Labor Union Organization) 1964, p.164. (35) Shakai Kyoku (Social Office), "Taishô jûsannen rôdô undô gaikyô", pp. 3,17

(36) With its three factories at Kawasaki, Hyôgo, and Kokura employing about 2000 workers, Tokyo Cable Co. was exceptionally large; most companies had fewer than 100 workers. See "Sôdômei gojûnenshi dai-nikan" (Fifty Years of the Japan General Confederation of Labor Vol. 2), Dôkankô Iinkai, 1966), pp.265-336.

Translated by Terry Boardman

This article first appeared as 'Rôdôsha kaikyû no jôtai to rôdô undô' (The Labor Movement and the Situation of the Working Class) (editor's title) in "Iwanami Kôza Nihonshi dai-18-kan Kindai 5" (Iwanami Series The History of Japan Vol. 18 Modern 5) Iwanami Shoten, Sept. 1975.

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