Brief History 3

III. Re-opening of the ILO Tokyo Branch Office and the Period of Awareness Raising (1955-1976)

ILO Director-General: Mr. David A. Morse (1948-1970) / Mr. Clarence Wilfred Jenks (1970-1973)


In October 1955, the ILO Tokyo Branch Office was re-established, and Mr. Yasuemon SAKURAI, who had previously worked for the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva, became the first postwar Director of the ILO Tokyo Branch Office (1955-1967). The ILO Tokyo Branch Office concentrated its efforts on providing the nation with information on ILO activities and overseas labor situations. During the 1960s, while it accepted overseas trainees, it sent Japanese trainees, mainly officials of the Ministry of Labour, to European and North American countries.

In April 1958, the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (SOHYO) filed a complaint with the ILO about the infringement of the principle of freedom of association, and this prompted public-sector labor unions to file a series of similar complaints with the ILO. These moves led the ratification of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87) into the spotlight, and Japan became the first country to accept the intervention of the ILO Fact-Finding and Conciliation Commission on Freedom of Association. Following the report of the Commission headed by Mr. Eric Dreyer, which sent its members to Japan in January 1965, Japan ratified the Convention No. 87 in June of the same year after it revised related domestic laws. In the same year, several ILO meetings were held in Japan, including the 2nd Asian Maritime Conference, Asian Regional Seminar on Social Security, and Asian Regional Vocational Training Seminar. In June 1966, Mr. Morio AOKI, a Government member of the Governing Body, was elected as the chairperson of the GB for a term of one year.

In January 1968, Mr. Shingo KAIDE, who had attended the International Labour Conference as a Government member, succeeded Mr. SAKURAI as the Director of the ILO Tokyo Branch Office (1968-1972). In September of the same year, the Asian Regional Conference, which took place in Japan again, was attended by Mr. David A. Morse, Director-General of the ILO, as well. In 1969, in Japan, there were various events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the ILO. In addition to events such as holding commemorative meetings, giving commemorative lectures, and issuing commemorative stamps, the winner of the essay contest “I was born with the ILO” was invited to the celebrations held at the ILO Headquarters.

In May 1970, Mr. Yujiro OHNO, Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Department at the Ministry of Labour, became the first Japanese to be appointed as the Assistant Director General. Even today, a Japanese official is serving as Assistant Director General in charge of Asia and the Pacific region (currently called the Regional Director). Mr. Clarence Wilfred Jenks, ILO Director-General, visited Japan as a distinguished guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from September to October 1971.

In January 1973, Mr. Seiji EBITSUKA succeeded Mr. KAIDE as Director of the ILO Tokyo Branch Office (1973-1977).

In November 1974, the ILO purchased a Japanese vessel to train Bangladeshi seafarers as part of its technical cooperation activities. In the same month, the Asian Regional Women Labour Administration Seminar, the first project that used Japan’s voluntary contribution to the ILO (ILO/Japan multi-bilateral cooperation), was held in Tokyo. Japan’s voluntary contribution has increased each year, and today, its annual voluntary contribution totals hundreds of millions of yen.

The elections of members of the Governing Body were held during the 60th Session of the International Labour Conference in 1975. As a result, Mr. Kazuo YOSHIMURA, Executive Director of the Japan Federation of Employers’ Association (NIKKEIREN) was elected as an Employer member and Mr. Yukitaka HARAGUCHI, SOHYO Advisor, as a Worker member. Consequently, all three groups of the GB had Japanese nationals in their respective members, the situation that has continued to the present day.