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