Vietnam Time

2/6/2018 10:32:00 PM

Yokohama labour union: A reliable friend of Vietnamese people

Protesting the war in Vietnam and supporting Vietnamese people in the struggle for national reunification in the 1960s and 1970s were one of the core activities of the Labour Union of Yokohama city, Japan.

Senior members of the union shared their memories about these activities with Vietnam News Agency’s reporters on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic ties (September 21st, 1973).

The union, founded in December 1947, organised many meetings opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam, gathering large number of peace lovers in the city. News stories reporting the U.S. air force’s bombing in the north of Vietnam as well as the worldwide movements protesting war in the Southeast Asian country were hung at public places in Yokohama, drawing public interest at that time.

From early 1965, the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam developed strongly. In September 1966, the Labour Union of Yokohama coordinated with trade unions around the globe to protest the U.S. war in Vietnam. Numerous demonstrations took place across the city. Added to this were activities to raise funds to send medicines and essential goods to support Vietnamese people.

Morita Kenichi, former President of the Yokohama Labour Union in the 1985-1992 period. (Source: baomoi.com)

Morita Kenichi, former President of the Yokohama Labour Union in the 1985-1992 period, was a pioneer in anti-war activities. To prevent the U.S. forces at the North Piece military base in Yokohama from sending military trucks to the south of Vietnam, on August 5th-6th, 1972, the union mobilised over 500 youths to stage a demonstration at the nearby Murasame bridge to stop the trucks. Morita led the demonstrators, who received warm support from city dwellers, hence successfully forcing the U.S. army to cancel its plan to send military trucks to Vietnam. This event grabbed the headline on the front page of many Japanese newspapers at that time.

During a visit to Vietnam in 1983, Morita had an opportunity to meet then Prime Minister Pham Van Dong who conveyed his gratefulness to Yokohama people for their valuable assistance for Vietnamese during the wartime.

Two other senior members of the Yokohama Trade Union, Yoshizawa Teiko and Motoyoshi Ryokichi also actively participated in anti-war activities in Yokohama. They continued to work for the friendship between the two nations in peace time. 

As chairman of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association, Motoyoshi regularly organises people-to-people exchanges and activities to support Vietnamese expatriates in Japan./.

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