The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation) held a policy discussion at the LDP headquarters on June 27. Rengo made demands on major policies that it would like to achieve by June 2019, such as equal pay for equal work and setting a ceiling for overtime work. Rengo is the main support organization for the LDP’s rivals in elections, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), so the LDP is striving to maintain an optimum distance with the labor group in its effort to keep the CDPJ and DPFP in check.
At the meeting on June 27, LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida cited the workstyle reform-related bills and noted that “an overtime work ceiling and equal pay for equal work are about to be achieved.”
Rengo Secretary General Yasunobu Aihara said: “We would like to strive for a society that ensures healthy and safe work styles.”
The LDP-Rengo policy discussion was launched in 1995. It was suspended for a time during the Democratic Party of Japan administration because Rengo was instrumental in establishing this administration. However, senior Rengo officials pleaded with former Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki, Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, and other senior LDP officials, succeeding in resuming the discussion in fall 2016, after a hiatus of five years. These discussions are now held about once in six months.
Since the time of the defunct Japan Socialist Party and Democratic Socialist Party, Rengo, as the national center of labor unions, has supported the LDP’s rivals in elections. However, a Rengo officer says: “We think about what is the best way to realize our policies, so discussing with the LDP is also important.”
Talking to the labor unions is also meaningful for the government and the ruling parties when dealing with major political issues.
Since its establishment in 1989, Rengo has been presenting its policy demands at its regular “political-labor meeting” with the prime minister. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been meeting with Rengo Chairman Rikio Kozu and other senior officers since his political comeback in December 2012. (Slightly abridged)