Vol.31-No.11 November 1,1992
Notable among these is formation of a new political party. To launch a new party, potential members will be considered from a wide range with major emphasis on personality and policy, transcending the framework of existing political parties. As part of this new approach, labor unions will nominate and support "reformed-faction dietmen," including LDP members, in future elections. Labor leaders under the umbrella of IMF.JC, including Tekkororen (Japan Federation of Steel Workers' Unions) are particularly active in promoting the formation of a new party. Tekkororen Chairman Washio, for example, has declared basic policies for the new party. These are: first, debate on revision of the Constitution; and second, acceptance of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as constitutional. Zendentsu (Japan Telecommunications Workers' Union), which has long supported SDPJ, is also in favor of the creation of a new party. Arguing that overhaul and realignment of the SDPJ is essential in order to form the core of a party which would present a viable alternative to the LDP, the organization is trying to dissociate itself from its close relations to the SDPJ.
Jichiro (All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers' Union), Japan's largest industrial labor union and supporter of the SDPJ, is mired in a complicated intra-union battle. At its August annual meeting, Chairman Goto declared, "A coalition of huge democratic powers transcending the framework of political parties is necessary. Therefore, to achieve this aim, we might disband the existing party to launch a new party." His statement, however, invoked criticism from representative members that "once we go awry, this will be the demise of the SDPJ." Currently Jichiro has a total of 31 of its members in both Houses of the Diet, many of whom one-time union executives and who won organizational and financial support from the union. For this reason, the organization finds it difficult to switch its own policy on political parties as the JC-affiliated unions are doing. Thus, it is difficult for Jichiro to jump aboard the new-party bandwagon. Other Kankoro unions, such as Zentei (Japan Postal Workers' Union), are also faced with a similar situation. Meanwhile, labor unions which support DSP, plan to strengthen the DSP in the next general election. Union membersvoice criticism of the stagnant DSP, however. "We felt we fought futile election battles in regions." came the cry from the ranks of party supporters at a convention of DSP-supporting unions. Depending on how the new-party debate progresses, these unions might be forced to overhaul their policy lines.
Formation of a new party is not easy to achieve, even though the concept may be appealing. Many issues need to be solved, -including: Where do political funds come from? How about the election organization? The current debate over the formation of a new party among labor unions has just gotten underway, with no specific programs emerging. Furthermore, an argument has yet to be made between the unions on how they will relate themselves with the parties. It is predicted that the debate over a "relationship between political parties and labor unions" will continue within Rengo.
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