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Our Unions, Our SelvesThe Rise of Feminist Labor Unions in Japan$
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Anne Zacharias-Walsh

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501703041

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501703041.001.0001

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A Tale of Two Activists

A Tale of Two Activists

(p.31) 2 A Tale of Two Activists
Our Unions, Our Selves

Anne Zacharias-Walsh

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the personal histories of Midori Ito and Keiko Tani as workers and activists, revealing common workplace experiences for women of their generation and offering insights into how and why Japanese women's unions (JWUs) developed the way they did. Tani was born in 1947 into a politically progressive family. She attended Tokyo Women's University during the Vietnam War, joining the student movement to protest the war and to work toward fundamental social change. Unlike Tani, Midori was an accidental activist. She hadn't thought of joining social movements when she was young. The two women met when their search for alternatives brought them to the National Union of General Workers-Tokyo (NUGWT). This chapter narrates how Midori and Tani got involved in JWU activism and why they founded Women's Union Tokyo (WUT). It also discusses the WUT's structure and practices, which are based on feminist ideals such as democracy and egalitarianism, along with its network-style organization and membership based on the principle of individual affiliation.

Keywords:   activism, Midori Ito, Keiko Tani, Japanese women, Japanese women's unions, National Union of General Workers-Tokyo, Women's Union Tokyo

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