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General Union Affiliation

Japanese Trade Unions and their Affiliations

In Japan, there are three main trade union federations:

1. Zenrokyo is an independent federation with no links to the Communist Party or any employers. It is made up largely of independent-minded unions and tends to take a more active approach to labour issues than the other two. It is the only one which actively attempts to organise foreign workers.

2. Rengo is largely composed of public sector unions and unions in the private sector, many of whom have a close relationship with company management and very often are 'yellow unions', or simply company-controlled.

3. Zenroren is affiliated to the Japan Communist Party (JCP)

There are three main unions for teachers, each affiliated to one of the three federations. The biggest is Nikkyoso. Nikkyoso and Zenkyo basically only recruit full-time permanent teachers, whereas Kyoiku Godo recruits any worker in the education industry.

The General Union exists to serve the needs of workers who were traditionally unorganised; hence its active recruitment of foreign workers. The GU is an area union, not based on any one employer or industry. Individuals may join, and if there are several members in one company or workplace, they can then form a branch of the General Union.

National Trade Union Council
ZENROKYO is a national confederation of private and public sector trade unions headquartered in Tokyo, and also includes regional councils, e.g. Osaka Zenrokyo. The National Executive is made up of regional representatives. Osaka Zenrokyo's executive is made up of representatives of member unions. Zenrokyo is the smallest of the three national trade union confederations. It is the only union federation that actively recruits and supports foreign workers and their disputes. ZENROKYO is made up of independent unions which are not controlled by company management.

National Union of General Workers - Zenkoku Ippan Zenkoku Kyogikai
NUGW is a national union of mainly private sector general unions like the General Union. The General Union has one executive member on the NUGW national executive committee. Some of the affiliated unions are based in companies, some on regions, and some, like the General Union, based predominantly in certain industries. Through NUGW, we are connected with other language workers in Tokyo, Nagoya, Sendai, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and other parts of Japan.


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