Memorandum by Mr. Harold S. Roberts, of the Department of Labor, to the Associate Chief of the Division of Labor, Social, and Health Affairs (Holland)


Trade Union Law of Japan83

In response to your request, we have examined the Trade Union Law #16 passed by the recent 89th Imperial Diet and promulgated on December 21, 1945.

[Page 139]

We are setting forth our specific reactions to each of the provisions in the law as well as suggestions for revision and, in some instances, proposals for complete substitution for existing provisions.

General Observations

The character of the entire bill is such that it will seriously limit the right as well as the ability of workers to organize in trade unions. This would appear to be contrary to the purpose of promulgating a trade union law at this time.
The bill establishes too many broad restrictions such as provisions for registration and penalties for failure to comply with the requirements set forth. At some future stage in the development of the trade union movement in Japan, it might be desirable to afford the unions an opportunity to register on a voluntary basis as is done by British trade unions. It might also be desirable at such future time to require unions to submit general information. However, the present need is to encourage workers to organize, and any requirements for detailed reporting as well as the exercise of such administrative controls would seriously hamper whatever organizational desire may exist.
The bill places too much power in the hands of the administrative authorities. Although it may be desirable for the existing government to develop a policy which would permit the growth of trade unions, it might also provide the administrative authorities with a strangle-hold over the trade unions which would make the trade unions largely a tool of the government. This would be a serious problem when the occupation forces are withdrawn. Detailed control as now provided would prohibit the growth of a free trade union movement with opportunity to develop along the lines desired by the Japanese workers. Some administrative guidance will be necessary, but it should be guidance, and not control.
The structure of the Labor Relations Committee is rather nebulous. There is indication of neither the extent to which the national committee is to determine policy nor the relationship between the local and national committees, particularly regarding review of local committee actions. The committees should operate so far as possible independently of any control by the administrative authorities. This is especially true with reference to the national committee which, to assure its effectiveness, must maintain a reputation for objectivity and must render labor policy-making decisions.
The bill covers too much ground in a vague manner; it touches on mediation and arbitration without establishing such machinery in detail. Provisions concerning dispute adjustment should either be omitted entirely from the bill or should be broadly expanded. [Page 140] Suggestions for specific mediation and arbitration procedures are included in our analysis of the relevant articles of the bill.

[Here follows a detailed analysis of 37 articles.]

  1. Cf. memorandum of January 31 by Philip B. Sullivan, p. 128. For letter to the War Department, March 28, see p. 185.