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(acronym for Nihon rodo kumiai sohyogikai; General Council of Trade Unions of Japan), the largest trade union federation in Japan. Sohyo was founded in July 1950 by trade unions that had split from the progressive National Federation of Industrial Trade Unions (Sambetsu kaigi, founded 1946) and by several conciliatory trade unions. As it developed, Sohyo became a militant defender of the interests of the working class. In 1951 it adopted the “four principles of peace,” which bound the trade unions (1) to struggle for peace treaties between Japan and the countries it had fought against during World War II (1939–45), (2) to oppose militarization, (3) to oppose the location of foreign military bases in Japan, and (4) to support neutrality. Several trade unions led by right-wing reformists split from Sohyo in 1953 and eventually formed a new trade union federation, the All-Japan Congress of Trade Unions (Zenro). Zenro was reorganized in 1964 as the All-Japan Confederation of Labor (Domei), which advocates cooperation with the capitalists.

Since 1955, Sohyo has sponsored annual “spring offensives,” which are organized jointly with other trade unions to help improve the living standards of the working people. Political demands are often advanced at these demonstrations of working people, which are well coordinated and employ techniques used in labor strikes. Along with the communist and socialist parties of Japan, Sohyo was the dominant force in the struggle against the Japanese-American security treaty in 1959 and 1960. It has also participated in other mass political movements in Japan since the mid-1950’s. While advocating unity in the Japanese trade union movement, Sohyo rejects Domei’s proposals for unification on a conciliatory basis. The Sohyo leadership is closely linked with the Socialist Party of Japan. The Communist Party of Japan also has a considerable influence on Sohyo’s unions.

Sohyo maintains a neutral policy in the international trade union movement but allows its constituent unions to participate in any international trade union federation. It has established permanent contacts with the World Federation of Trade Unions and maintains regular contacts with Soviet trade unions. Meetings of the standing Japanese-Soviet trade union commission, attended by leaders of Sohyo and the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, have been held continuously since 1966. By late 1974, Sohyo had 4.4 million members—approximately 36 percent of all trade union members in Japan.


Topekha, P. P. Rabochee dvizhenie v Japonii (1945–1971). Moscow, 1973.


References in periodicals archive ?
Sasaki-Uemura's approach, similar to other studies by Satoshi Kamata (Kamata Satoshi no Kiroku 3 [The Third Diary of Kamata Satoshi], 1991), Robin LeBlanc (Bicycle Citizens: The Political Worm of the Japanese Housewife, 1999), and Sheila Smith (Local Voices, National Issues: The Impact of Local Initiative in Japanese Policy-Making, 2000), eschews conventional large-scale interest groups like Sohyo and long-term opposition parties like the Communists and Socialists for a more "grassroots" approach to political protest.
Following the dissolution of Sohyo, Rengo was launched in 1989.
More than a decade ago, Sohyo was an important progressive union federation.
In 1987 the four major confederations - Sohyo, Shinsanbetsu, Churitsuroren, and Domei - merged to form a single confederation, Rengo.
Sohyo was not one of its affiliates but the ICFTU had been patiently wooing it for several years, denying Meany's claim that the centre was already communist and that the ICFTU should concentrate instead on building up a smaller, break-away organization.
In 1954 there had been a split in Sohyo out of which a new moderate rival, Zenro was formed.
These are: Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan), Domei (Japanese Confederation of Labor), Churitsuroren (National Federation of Independent Unions of Japan), and Shinsanbetsu (Federation of Independent Unions of Japan).
Rengo was launched in 1989 as the nation's largest umbrella of labor unions, absorbing the left-wing Sohyo and right-wing Domei.