Archive for Unemployment

Japanese turn to communists in downturn

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs with tags , , , , on July 14, 2009 by Umer

Millions of Japanese salarymen, whose fathers and grandfathers initiated this nation’s economic miracle, are fully aware that the chaff has already been winnowed out of the domestic workforce.

They have seen the part-time employees clock out one last time and the foreign labourers’ contracts not renewed. They know there is no staffing fat left to trim and have seen the axes beginning to fall in companies where previously the dark-suited salaryman has been untouchable.

“It’s very hard right now,” says Keisuke Obata, a 42-year-old employee of a major manufacturing company based in Tokyo. “I’ve never seen things so bad, and all we hear from the company and the politicians is that we have to try a little harder and endure for a little longer.”

Obata has been on a reduced working week since January, has seen his pay cut and his summer bonus similarly shrivel. The company is appealing for people to take voluntary redundancy.
“It makes you think,” he admits. “But there are not many other jobs out there and I have commitments.”

Men like Obata, who has given two decades of service to his company yet is on the verge of being summarily dismissed, are finding their previously unswerving commitment to their employers eclipsed by the instinct for self-preservation.

With a mortgage and three young children to provide for, Obata has heard the message that has gradually spread across the shop floor and entered the domain of the white-collar workers. Communism, they say, might just have the answer.

“Companies are only interested in their profits and protecting their management,” says Tatsuya Yoshida, an employee of a Tokyo-based transport company. “They do not care about their staff. They see us as disposable.”

The last time 42-year-old Yoshida voted, he backed the New Komeito Party.

The junior member of the two-party coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party, it draws its support mainly from the ranks of the Sokka Gakkai Buddhist organisation and is presently the third largest party in the Japanese Diet.

According to the latest opinion polls, however, it has been overtaken by the Japanese Communist Party. And workers like Yoshida are doing all they can to spread the word.

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