Introduction to the Japan Research Institute of Labor Movement

Let us introduce our institute's activity. We, the Japan Research Institute of Labor Movement, stand up for the working class in Japan, support their struggle for changing the Japan society and contribute them with our theoretical activities. Our institute consists of some 300 individual members, most of whom are university teachers and researchers, and sixty-seven groups including the National Confederation of Trade Unions and other trade union organizations.

Aim of Founding Rodo-Soken

On December 11, 1989, the General Meeting of Promoters for the Foundation of the Japan Research Institute of Labor Movement (Rodo-Soken) adopted the prospectus, statutes, and work projects of the institute, by that declared the foundation of the institute. About a month before this, in November, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) had been set up.

They define the aim of founding our institute in the gProspectuses for thefoundation of the Japan Research Institute of Labor Movement" adopted by the above promoters' general meeting. It says:

gJapan's labor movement is now at a crucial turning point. Due to the contradictions between postwar Japanese capitalism and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty system coming to the fore, the Liberal Democratic Party government, whichhad lasted for many years, has now become more shaky than ever. Under such circumstances a new national center of the trade union movement, the National Confederation of Trade Unions, was set up. At national, industrial and local levels, they have tried for a full-scale build-up of the labor movement, which has just started to make strides forward.h

gThe ruling classes will never sit idly and let the labor movement go advancing. The business circles, LDP government, Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) and other forces will pull themselves together, try every means and mobilize all social forces to counter our movement. We should never make light of their full-scale attack on our movement, organization and ideology.h

@@gHowever, the advancement of Japan's labor movement today is inevitable. Most of the Japanese people have now become aware that LDP politics threat to the very basis of the livelihood and rights of workers and the people. Rengo has taken over all the existing national centers. Under this situation, the National Confederation of Trade Unions, a newborn national center, will be the one and only center for themass labor movement. That can defend workers' and the people's life and rights, in defiance of the politics carried forward by monopoly capital. Further, the key players of the new movement are workers and trade unions, who have achieved solid progress by countering intensive attacks launched by reactionary forces. They are the original current that succeeds the positive tradition of Japan's labor movement.h

gAside it, today's social conditions concerning the labor movement are greatly changing both at home and internationally. Workers and trade unions are facing such structural changes of society as egrowing importance of information,f eeconomy giving more preference to service,f einternationalization,f eagin population.f They confront them while with unprecedented attacks of estreamlining,f carried out by the government in its policy such as eeconomicstructural adjustmentf and eadministrative reform.f The main opponents of the trade union movement are gigantic enterprises that have now become multinationals. Those gigantic enterprises cooperate and maintain cozy relationship with U.S. monopoly capital. They are using their advance abroad and increasing export to force workers both in Japan and in other developed or developing countries, to compete with each other. This makes them thus leveling down their working and living conditions. The labor movement today must march forward, while dealing appropriately with these changes and the tasks for the movement arising from such changes. Nevertheless, the road will hardly be an easy one to follow.h

gIn such a situation as described above, it is an urgent demand today to set up a research institute that can meet the necessity of the labor movement, and can also give theoretical, practical assistance to the progress of the movement. The purpose of our institute is to promote research and policymaking activities that can make positive contribution to the development of the movement, in close communicationand relationship with a new national center, National Confederation of Trade Unions.It also aims to offer opportunities for cooperation and united efforts to democratic researchers and investigation groups working all over the country in different fields relating to the labor movement.h

gThe initiatives of groups and individuals establish this institute as a joint enterprise that pursue these goals.h

Present Activities

Eight years have passed since the foundation of the institute. Here is a brief report on its activities. The Article 8 of the Institute Statutes defines the aim of founding the institute as follows: gWith the aim of serving to meet the demandsposed by the labor movement, to enrich and improve people's living conditions, the Institute will not only carry out theoretical study, but also research, investigation and supply of materials and information for policy planning that will give practical assistance for the advance of the movement." By this aim, the institute has worked so far on such activities as 1) research and study, 2) publication and publicity, 3)collecting and supplying materials, 4) exchange of opinions on research and policy planning, and 5) organizational development of the institute. Of these activities, let us refer to our research and study work, and publication and publicity.

Research and Study

Research and study of our institute is being conducted by two types of working groups, namely, gproject teams" and gstudy sections on specific issues." One project team takes up a specific theme according to the members' opinions and suggestions, and works within the limited two year periods. They will disband the team when the study finishes. gStudy sections on specific issues" have no time limit for their work as a rule, but they require each section to try to publish the results of its study every two years.

In case of setting up a new gproject team" or gstudy section" to meet thedemand arising from the situation, it will be discussed and decided by the institute's standing board of directors.

The following is the project teams and study sections actually at work:

Project teams

On the study on Japanese-style labor-management relations
Study sections
  1. On salary and minimum wages
  2. On working hours
  3. On labor legislation
  4. On youth issue
  5. On women workers
  6. On precarious employment
  7. On medium and small-sized enterprises
  8. On international labor questions
  9. On economic trends
  10. On social security
  11. On industry and labor in Kansai area
More than eighty people including trade unionists, most of whom are the Institute members who are researchers, are being engaged in these researches andstudy activities.

Publication and Publicity

1) The Institute publishes the following three journals:
gRodo-Soken News" monthly in Japanese
gRodo-Soken Quarterly" quarterly in Japanese
gRodo Soken Journal" quarterly in English
gRodo-Soken News" aims to offer the Institute members opportunities to publish articles on timely issues, and to know how the Institute's activity is going on.

gRodo-Soken Quarterly" aims to respond the need of the trade union movement. For this purpose, every quarterly carries on its opening page an essay on such questions as current trends concerning political and economic situation, and theessay will be followed by some articles on moves related to the trade union movement both at home and abroad, a special feature composed of three or four treatises focused on important tasks of the movement, and comments and review ofbooks or documents.

gRodo-Soken Journal" is sent to researchers, universities, national centers of trade union movements and industrial trade unions in other countries, to promotemutual exchange of materials and information with them.

2) To distribute them in society, the result of the study carried out by gproject teams" and gstudy sections on individual issues" have been published in more than ten books in Japanese so far.