May Day events sidestep thorny politics

An estimated 2 million people gathered for May Day celebrations May 1 at about 1,000 locations throughout the country, according to sponsors of the events.

The National Police Agency, however, estimated that 631,000 people took part in a total of 574 rallies all over Japan as of 3 p.m., including one in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. Although this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Constitution’s enactment, rallies sponsored by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the nation’s largest labor organization, made no reference at all to political issues such as U.S. bases in Okinawa and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Instead, festivities prevailed with music concerts and other entertaining events. At Yoyogi Park, where the main May Day ceremony was held, Rengo President Jinnosuke Ashiya said in a speech that the confederation wants the government to promote reforms without adversely affecting employment and labor conditions.

Rengo estimated that about 90,000 people participated in the rally. Also present were Takako Doi, head of the Social Democratic Party; Labor Minister Yutaka Okano; Naoto Kan, coleader of the Democratic Party of Japan; Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima and Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka.