Correspondence between F. Takano and S. Gompers
May 19th, 1897
Mr. F. Takano,
#148 Higashi-Kata Street,
Hongo, Tokyo, Japan.
Dear Sir & Friend:--
I have your favor of April 15th and note its contents with a great deal of interest and pleasure, more particularly at the inauguration of a new movement to further the cause of labor in Japan by and through the effectiveness of organization on trade union lines. Of course I was not able to read the circular which the "Friends of Labor" issued but I regard it as a very interesting souvenir of the first publication of its kind in your country. I realize the difficulties standing in your way toward a thorough agitation of the question of organization among the Japanese workers. The low wages, long hours, the poor conditions, all tend to make the poverty of the worker so great as to make it almost impossible for them to contribute anything towards the agitation for the requisites to build up successful trade unions. It took the poor of Europe centuries to do this. Perhaps the present incipient steps of the workers of Japan may prove a harbinger of a better day to come, a better day wrought by their own effort, by their own determination, by their own sacrifice.
I presume you see the American Federationist regularly and have noted that the A.F. of L. has started a new movement for the enforcement of the eight hour workday May 1st 1898. Perhaps you have also seen the eight-hour article which I am publishing in the American Federationist. I have gotten it out in pamphlet form and mail a copy to you under separate cover. I am sure that you will be interested in its perusal. At the present time there is quite some activity in the eight hour movement of the United States though there is no concert of effort now made in the trades other than in the building trades. Yet there is a constant trend to move in the direction of a shorter workday. Considerable success is already being achieved. I look forward to a great organization of the masses of labor within I a year from now for I verily believe that there will be a momentous movement.
I also enclose in the same package copy of a call which I have recently issued in connection with the Western Federation of Miners. Upon reading it you will perhaps find it interesting and self explanatory. They propose to withdraw from the Federation and I am informed by telegram that the delegates repudiated the actions of the officers and determined to stay with us.
I am in doubt as to what the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen will do, but I imagine that the proposition to affiliate with the A.F. of L. will be defeated a number of members believing that they should insist on maintaining a "color line" in their constitution. It will interest you further to know that the Textile Workers National Union at its recent convention drew away from its beaten path of life and came out for clean cut trade unionism. I believe there is is a bright prospect now in view for the organization. The Boot & Shoe Workers Union which was also permeated with that idea, will hold a its convention shortly and I believe the same result will follow.
The International Association of Machinists at its recent convention boldly decided to make the demand for eight hours May 1 1898. A number of other organizations are doing likewise. I read an extract of a letter from you published in the Firemens Journal and I express my gratitude to you for your kind words of appreciation and commendation. I only wish that I could do something tangible to help the workers of your country to organize but I am sure you will not measure my performances in that direction by the limit of opportunities. I am,
President A.F. of L.