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Zenroren joins KCTU against Abe

Aug 16,2019
이미지뷰
Kim Myung-hwan, left, chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, shakes hands with Yoshikazu Odagawa, president of Japan’s National Confederation of Trade Unions, Thursday during a press conference in Seoul. [YONHAP]
The president of Japan’s second-largest labor union vowed to join forces with Korea’s second-largest labor union to protest Tokyo’s export restrictions against Seoul, saying the measures were doing immense harm to both countries’ economies.

Yoshikazu Odagawa, president of Japan’s National Confederation of Trade Unions, known as Zenroren, said Thursday during a press conference at the headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) in Jung District, central Seoul, that the Shinzo Abe administration was trying to resolve a diplomatic issue with an economic measure in order to rally support from his right-wing base.

Odagawa said it was crucial for his confederation to join forces with the KCTU to criticize the Abe administration and that his group was planning to participate in a rally on Aug. 27 in front of Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s residence in Tokyo to denounce the economic retaliations against Seoul.

The press conference was among a number of events Odagawa participated in Thursday as Korea celebrated its annual National Liberation Day, the day Korea gained independence from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

The KCTU said in a press release Wednesday that Odagawa was scheduled to participate in at least three rallies Thursday afternoon in Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul, that criticized Abe and promoted peace and labor rights. Zenroren, founded in 1989, has nearly 1.2 million members from 21 Japanese labor groups, the KCTU said.

Odagawa’s visit to Seoul followed a statement from Zenroren on Aug. 6, through which the Japanese labor union accused Tokyo of retaliating against Seoul for Korean Supreme Court rulings last year ordering two Japanese companies to compensate Korean wartime forced laborers. Zenroren added that Abe was “distorting” history and instigating nationalism amongst his people to gain political support to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution that stipulates Tokyo cannot possess military forces.

“It’s clear that the Abe government’s export restrictions will inflict great harm on the economies of both Korea and Japan,” Zenroren said. “Not only Korean laborers and citizens but Japanese laborers and citizens will also be subject to the severe ramifications.”

Zenroren stressed it would cooperate with Korean citizens and laborers in blocking Abe’s “violence” and rally for Abe’s resignation.

Tokyo imposed export restrictions last month and then removed Korea from its so-called white list of trusted trade partners.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]