Japanese Workers and the
Struggle for Power
1945-47
Joe Moore
Production Control
 Democratizing the Yomiuri
 Shôriki Matsutarô--President of Yomiuri
 Suzuki Tômin, “fighting liberal” leftist
 Democratic Study Group sought
Employee’s union
Democratization of company’s organization
Better pay and respect for workers as human
beings
Independent consumers’ union
Production Control Movement
Shôriki orders Suzuki’s resignation over
labor struggle
Workers occupy editorial offices
Elect Suzuki chair of supreme struggle
committee
SCAP arrests Shôriki as suspected war
criminal and he resigns
Baba Tsunego succeeds him
Similar Story at Keisei Railway
SCAP agrees that worker actions that
interfere with economic reconstruction
should be banned (1945)
But MacArthur also encouraged the
unionization of labor and would brook
no interference
So, a mixed message at best.
Ch. 7 The Conservative
Reaction
 Summer 1946 Yoshida Cabinet seeks to
reverse working class gains
 Reverse Course in Labor Reform
 Production control = core of popular
resistance so Yoshida wanted to break the
movement
 Yoshida and events convinced SCAP that
potential for radical change in workplace was
genuine
Housebreaking the Labor
Movement
SCAP at once pro-labor and anti-
communist
Second Yomiuri Dispute June 1946
6 communists identified by name
including Suzuki
Baba “ordered” by Baker to dismiss
them
Struggle committee stands up to Baba’s
dismissals
Major Daniel Imboden intervenes,
employees accept the 6 dismissals
Theodore Cohen dissents -- no court
order, no violence, no public disorder.
Baba transfers 17 union leaders out of
Tokyo
Engineers strike
Company strikebreakers grab the
striking workers and throw them out.
Yoshida continues to win as heads off
General Strike in February 1947
As Moore writes:
 In the end, SCAP lent its support to the old
guard’s destruction of the militant industrial
unions
 A working-class democratization of postwar
Japan was not to be. Too much was against
it…
 The fight for a new Japan…must be seen,
nevertheless, as one of the peaks in the
history of the Japanese working class. (243)
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