The Japan Teachers Union celebrated its 70th anniversary on 8 June, highlighting the work of the union in improving the working conditions and status of teachers.
At a well-attended reception in Tokyo, JTU President Yuichiro Izumi recalled the union's successes in defending teachers' rights and promoting quality public education. He also recalled the four principles that have guided the education union since its establishment in 1947: full pacification, adherence to neutrality, opposition to the provision of military bases, and a stand against rearmament. Indeed, the union is currently resisting efforts by the Japanese government to change the country's constitution allowing it to build up armed forces.
Rikio Kozu, President of the trade union confederation, RENGO, reaffirmed his organisation's support to the JTU’s effort to improve the status of teachers in Japan. Teachers’ workload, their long hours, the increase of temporary contracts and the spread of standardised testing are the main challenges facing the profession, according to the union's leadership. Several political parties expressed their best wishes to the JTU and pledged that they would help resolve some of these challenges.
EI: Legacy of JTU
Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, who also addressed the reception, said that the Japanese education system has proved to be the catalyst of great technological innovation and artistic achievement. "So much of our world exists today because of what was born out of your classrooms, what began with your union and its teachers, and we are all better for it," van Leeuwen said. He presented the union with EI's "Certificate of Commendation".
On 9 June, the EI General Secretary met with several Diet members of the Democratic Party, including former Education Minister Mr. Hirano.