Full Text


Masao Inoue

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Eastern Asia » Japan

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics labor unions, pacifism, revolution, rights, wages

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01383.x


Sohyo, the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan, was formed in 1950 and dissolved in 1989 in the process of the formation of a new national federation of labor unions, Rengo. It was the biggest national federation of labor unions in Japanese labor history. Sohyo activities over 40 years ranged from improvement of working conditions to the organization of opposition movements to important political issues. Sohyo was the foremost opposition power to a ruling political and economic system in Japan, functioning effectively until around 1970. However, in the following 20 years, it was unable to exert its power sufficiently due to factors such as changes in the political economic environment and in workers' consciousness. In a country occupied by the Allied forces, union members pursuing union democracy in the Sanbetsu Federation (Japan Council of Industrial Labor Unions), which was heavily influenced by the Japanese Communist Party, split away to form Sohyo, supported by the GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Powers) and the SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers). Though Sohyo was founded as an establishment, right-leaning union, it gradually developed strong leftist tendencies at a time when the Korean War outside Japan, and the “Red Purge” within, were on course. Sohyo's transformation from a labor organization with a rightist outlook to a leftist organization–a phenomenon ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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