Correspondence between F. Takano and S. Gompers
Great Barrington, Mass. 3/6 '94
President Samuel Gompers,
American Federation of Labor
Dear Sir--Having been attracted by the well doings of American Workingmen since my arrival in this country a few years ago, my thought has been turned upon Japanese laborers whose condition viewed from social and material standpoint is most pitiful and has caused me to determine to try to better their condition upon my return home. In order to do so, I intend to study as much as I can of American Labor movement while I live in this country.
Understanding that you had such varied experiences on labor organization and as a head of one of the most powerful union in this country, your opinion concerning labor matter in its various phase would be most worthy, I venture to seek your advice concerning practical application of the labor problem in Japan.
As you are aware, there is no labor organization in Japan at present and the cause or this non-existence, I believe, is the prevailing ignorance among the working people. This being the case, to educate the working people is the most important step to be taken in amelioration or their condition. I further believe that the educational work must be carried by organized effort, that is to say, we must organize the working people in order to educate them.
Thus far I am firmly convinced of the correctness or my position, but what form of organization to be adopted is the point I am not quite sure. Whether it should on line of trade union such as your order is, or it should be organized by locally irrespective of trade or calling such as the Knights or Labor is. It is clear to me that as a permanent form of organization, the trade unionism is the most desirous from in that it insures stability of the union, but to apply it to Japan under existing condition, the result is doubtful. Under the prevailing condition in Japan ignorance among the working people in the country, it is impossible to form any powerful organization what ever form it may adopt in the course of several years. While such gloomy state is existing, is it wise to proceed to organize by trade, I fear it will result in formation of many small organization too weak to make its educational understanding effective. It may be suggested that those small organizations should be federated. But that means another years effort, meantime the educational work must remain ineffective which ought to be avoided, if there is another way.
I am inclined to consider that it is preferable to adopt the form of K. of L. as a temporary method in organizing the Japanese workingmen, bringing what ever number of them there is who is willing to join under one organization and start the educational work at once. In course of time when should any trade within organization become strong enough to form separate union, allow it to do so, and affiliate it to the main organization and finally bring the organization on to the basis of the trade unionism. Or, would you advise me to proceed with the plan of the trade unionism regardless of its present consequence?
The reason I am so anxious to select a best plan to begin with is this;--failure of the first attempt to organize means annihilation of another attempt within ten or fifteen years following.
Should you be kind enough to give me any advice concerning the subject matter, I should esteem, it as a greatest favor and benevolence.
You will please, also, favor me with a copy of constitution of your union, and any printed matter you have so that I may study more closely the organization of your order.