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5 June, 2014Ichiro Seto, a pioneer who opened gate for the Japanese metalworkers to join international labour movement, has died at the age of 86.
Bro. Ichiro Seto, the one of founders and the first General Secretary of Japan Council of Metalworkers’ Unions – JCM(ex-IMF-JC), and also former Assistant General Secretary(1977-1993) of International Metalworkers Federation-IMF, passed away on 7 May, 2014.
The IMF (International Metalworkers' Federation) was founded in 1893 as one of the free and democratic ITS (International Trade Secretariats) unifying metalworkers throughout the world in the fight for human rights, trade union rights, democracy and social justice.
Before the 1950's, quite a few people in Japan were aware of the IMF's existence. The IMF planned to set up a liaison office for organizing activities in Japan to cope with the new labor situation as a result of rapid economic growth.
The IMF office in Tokyo was opened in April 1957, and Brother Ichiro Seto was assigned as a Director of the IMF Liaison Office for Japan. Brother Seto launched organizing drives for Japanese metalworkers in cooperation with Brother Alfred Dannenberg, Assistant General Secretary of the IMF. In May 1957, the IMF Office in Tokyo started regular publication of The IMF News as an instrument for organizing drives. The IMF was gradually gaining popularity through Brother Seto's tireless efforts, including courtesy calls and fraternal participation in various industrial federations' events with IMF officials and affiliates, as well as letting Japanese metalworkers' representatives observe IMF conferences and meetings.
In order to cope with the liberalization of trade, management tried to strengthen companies' structures to survive the fierce international competition through company tie-ups and mergers from 1962 to 1963. Recognizing the necessity to join the IMF, Japanese metalworkers' unions decided to form the IMF-JC (International Metalworkers' Federation-Japan Council) and launched a struggle to improve wages and working conditions. The IMF-JC was founded on 16 May 1964 with an inaugural membership of 470,000 assembled from beyond the boundaries of the nation's major urban centers, coming from four industry-wide federations and two enterprise-based unions including Denki Roren (electrical and electronics workers), Zosen Soren (shipbuilders), Zenkoku Jidosha (automobile workers), Zenkikin (metal and machinery workers), Yahata Steelworkers' Union and Nakayama Steelworkers' Union.
Delegates to the Inaugural Convention elected Brother Tomoyuki Fukuma as president and Brother Ichiro Seto as general secretary of the IMF-JC. In 1966, all Japanese steelworkers affiliated with the IMF-JC through JSW.
The 20th IMF World Congress, which was held in November 1964 in Vienna, unanimously approved the affiliation of the IMF-JC.
Organizing drives at the regional level were also strengthened shortly after the inauguration of the IMF-JC. Nine regional councils were established by 1968. In September 1968, IMF-JC membership exceeded one million, which now has 2 million membership.
Brother Ichiro Seto was truly a pioneer for the Japanese metalworkers and made a great contribution to the development of international labour movement in the metal industry.