- This is what I Want to know About JTU!
Mr. Yuzuru Nakamura
Secretary General, JTU
Ms. Kuniko Yamamoto
former announcer at Yokohama FM
In response to the question “What is JTU?”, many will answer that it is a labor union of teachers. Perhaps it is the only thing they know about the organization. Through this interview, you will know the very basics JTU.
- What kind of people are there in JTU?
- Many people may think that JTU is an organization of teachers, but our members include other professions working at school,including secretary workers, nutrition staff and manual workers. JTU also covers not only elementary, junior high and high schools but also universities/colleges and specialized schools, regardless of whether they are State, public or private schools. It is a union for everyone who works at school. In the future, we want to make a circle of movements with all those who are involved in children’s development, such as teachers at prep schools or trainers at swimming schools.
- I didn’t know that teachers at specialized schools can join JTU! But what kind of merits do they have by joining it?
- Since children grow up not only in schools but also in other environment, including at home, in the community and in a broader society, I think it is important that those who work in different places discuss and collaborate in supporting children’s development. Also, since those workers are also human beings, it is necessary for them to get together in making requests and demands to the Ministry of Education and other policymakers for the improvement of working conditions, schools and physical facilities.
- What are the basic ideas of JTU?
- The starting point of JTU was regret for what teachers had done during the World War II. During the war, teachers had told their children to die for the state. When the war ended, they pledged not to send their children to battlefields again, which is the origin of the JTU movement. We also have roles as a labor union, however. Thus we need to organize ourselves both for workers’ rights and for child development.
- What kind of society does JTU seek for?
- The fundamental point is peace, without which education cannot be achieved. And also a society without discrimination. We should seek to educate our children in a way to ensure that they will grow up into adults with sensitivity to human rights, who can work for the elimination of discrimination, not only between men and women, but also on the basis of disability or family conditions. Our most important task is to help children acquire basic academic skills. At the same time, since we are witnessing worrying cases of juvenile crime, we also want them to develop healthy characters and relationships, so that they have self-awareness that they themselves will create a society in the future. We have currently many demands from the society, not only in terms of academic skills, but also concerning basic lifestyles, greeting and other disciplines and ways of using language. We need to talk with parents about each other’s roles, telling them this is what we can do and this should be done at home.
- We often hear about conflicts between union members and other teachers.
- Teachers have their own commitments, and sometimes they may appear to be in conflict. I think it happens in all private companies. Many arguments are presented and internal conflicts may arise in the process of decision-making. Is this not the case? Union members sometimes have different opinions. But that should be solved through discussions, so that schools can have an integrated stance to the outside.
I hear that there are members of JTU among teachers working at specialized schools. Many people’s strength is better than being alone.
If teachers can get together with the same commitment to children’s development, many more new possibilities are likely to emerge.
Conflicts between strangers are interesting, as is the case with rumors. I was impressed by the words “an integrated stance to the outside”.