Japan’s largest labor organization, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation or Rengo, said Thursday it has decided to downgrade the level of support it officially offers to the newly formed opposition Democratic Party.
The decision-making central executive committee approved a proposal to change the wording in Rengo’s statement on the main opposition party from pledging “strengthened cooperation and support” to just “cooperation.”
The more generous wording referred to the Democratic Party of Japan, which merged with the smaller—and broadly more conservative—Japan Innovation Party last month to form the new party. Rengo was the largest organization to lend its support to the DPJ.
The change indicates Rengo members wish to wait and see how much influence former JIP members will have on Democratic Party policy. Rengo represents about 6.82 million members of unions throughout Japan.
“Our stance of checking our respective policies against each other and working together hasn’t changed,” Rengo President Rikio Kozu told a press conference following Thursday’s meeting.
But before offering its support to the party for the House of Councillors election this summer, the union body will “carefully gauge how each individual politician has acted and spoken,” Kozu added.
The Democratic Party is fielding 12 Rengo members among its candidates for proportional representation districts in the election.
The party’s acting president Renho stressed its independence from the union body Thursday.
“There’s no way that a party supported by Rengo can interfere in its doctrine, and likewise Rengo won’t get a say when we decide on our manifesto,” she said.
According to the new statement, “(Rengo) will assess on a point-by-point basis whether the political ideals and policies espoused by the DPJ, particularly on social welfare and tax reform, are being carried on.”
But the statement also says Rengo is willing to sign a policy accord with the Democratic Party in the run-up to the upper house election if it determines the party’s policy mix is in line with its own principles and policies.
The older version of Rengo’s policy statement said the organization will “strengthen cooperation with and support of the DPJ, which shares most of our policies, and aim to see those policies realized.”
The union body had pledged its “full support” to the DPJ in a policy accord for the 2014 lower house election.