I was cycling around Akasaka and Nagatacho at lunchtime today, enjoying the cool, dry sunny weather – a pleasant respite from the recent cloudiness and beginnings of summer mugginess. I happened upon this demonstration happening directly across from the National Diet Building. It was in support of a case that goes back no less than 21 years!
Back on April 1, 1987, Japan Railways was privatized. According to the National Railway Workers Union (Kokuro), its members were unfairly treated by the new rail companies created by privatization. In November 2006, legal action by Kokuro resulted in Supreme Court decisions ordering compensation for union members. It is an extremely convoluted story, but there remain 1,047 laid off union members from that time whose cases have yet to be settled.
You can’t tell from the photo, but there was a considerable police presence (the Kasumigaseki) area is always swarming with them anyway, and I got dirty looks from a few police simply for showing an interest in the demonstration.
Read about the 2010 outcome of the dispute here.