Labor Report from Meiji Japan (22)

  Rodo Kumiai Kisei Kwai

TAKANO, Fusataro.

With much humility I take up again my long-neglected duty as your Japanese correspondent. Under no ordinary circumstances could I have been so ungrateful as to neglect my duty toward you for so long, and I earnestly beg your indulgence. Since I took the position of stewardship of the then newly started co-operative store at Yokohama, in November last, the whole of my time as well as my thought was taken up with the matters pertaining to that concern, and I found very little opportunity left to attend to any other business. Nine months of assiduous labor, however, placed the store on a permanent basis and as its utility to the labor movement of this country is now assured, I took the first opportunity to return to this city, and resumed, on the 15th of August last, my duty as the secretary of the Rodo Kumiai Kisei Kwai. With this resumption of the office I expect to be able to keep you in touch with the Japanese labor movement.

Our movement is gaining in strength steadily. Although the Iron Workers' Union has made but slight progress in its membership its influence is daily advancing. It now owns a meeting house of its own......the single instance of a Japanese workers' association owning its own building. Benefit features of the union are rapidly gaining popularity among the members. Over 1,500 yen (1 yen equals 53.6 cents U.S. currency) have been so far disbursed among its needy members.

The Printers' Association, formed by some printer members of our association, now claim 800 membership. It is proposed that within the coming month it will change its constitution so as to conform to the strict trade union requirements with benefit features similar to the iron workers. Ways and means of affiliation with our association are carefully considered by the prime movers of the union, and I am advising them on all the matters relating to trade unionism and its federation.

Affiliation of the Engineers and Firemen's Union of the Japan Railway Co. is also now assured. It is expected that during the month of October the union will hold its convention and officially sanction the proposed affiliation. Thus, you see, the federation of iron workers, printers and railway employees through our association is a thing almost certain to be realized within a month or two, and one of my pet schemes is well nigh on its road of achievement.

An idea struck me the other day. As our workers are financially too weak to render any pecuniary assistance to our American brothers in times of trouble, it will be a good idea to help them by taking up American boycotts in this country. While this could not be, at the present stage of our organization, very effective, the fact that a boycott extended to this far eastern country will, I think, greatly encourage American brothers in their fights against unfair employers. With this idea in mind, I scrutinized the unfair list published in the FEDERATIONIST. Finding the products of the American Tobacco Company among the list, I conceived that our first sympathetic action toward our American brothers is to take up the boycott against the company's products imported into this country. Upon perusal of the list, however, I found that two certain brands of cigarettes manufactured by the company and imported in a great quantity to this country and largely consumed by our workers, are not mentioned in the list. Although I have little doubt as to the certainty of the former being under the ban, it is doubtful whether the same can be said of the latter-mentioned brand. I concluded it to be best to proceed after I have definitely ascertained the fact. I shall be very much obliged if you will ascertain whether the two brands should be placed under the ban or not and let me know the result of your inquiry. Upon the receipt of an affirmative answer from you, I will take appropriate action at once and when so doing, I will notify you.

I am in receipt of your FEDERATIONIST regularly. Please accept my thanks for them.

September 1, 1899.

American Federationist, VI, No.8(October, 1899).

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