View Full Version : Dignity in work - Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani - 23 November 2018

23rd November 2018, 08:13 AM
Today, the people of Japan are celebrating Labour Thanksgiving Day. The annual national holiday is dedicated to the positive contributions of workers and production staff for Japan’s betterment.

Historically, the day was originally known as Niiname-sai, linked to a Japanese ancient harvest festival. It is believed that the celebrations were initiated by the emperor of Japan thousands of years ago, with prayers for a prosperous new year. The celebrations were usually held in the imperial palace and various shrines. During the traditional ceremony, the emperor used to be the first one to taste rice from that year’s harvest to appreciate the hard work done by farmers.

In modern history, Labour Thanksgiving Day was observed in Japan after World War II. It is a bitter truth that the Japanese were treated brutally by the Allies during World War II. Japan faced the most horrific nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The nuclear bombings resulted in the killing of around 200,000 civilians. The exact details of tragedies are still unknown.

The Japanese armed forces were quite active against the enemy. Even the Japanese Navy Air Service conducted a successful surprise strike against the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. Japan was capable enough to respond to nuclear attacks on its cities. However, the Japanese decided to give up, just after six days of nuclear bombing, to save more lives on both sides. The country’s leadership signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which resulted in the end of World War II and the occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers, led by the US.

The new constitution, also known as the ‘Peace Constitution’, was implemented in Japan. The preamble states that: “We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time...We desire to occupy an honoured place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time”.

History reveals that Japan once again emerged as an independent and sovereign country on the world map after a few years. Interestingly, the US, which had once bombed Japanese cities, became its ally. The Japanese leadership decided to keep its focus on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-torn Japan through the active support of the Allies.

Various political, military, economic, and social reforms were introduced. On the international front, Japan struggled to establish cordial diplomatic relations with other countries. The brave Japanese people accepted the challenge to transform their beloved country into a strong democracy and the world’s leading industrial power. Most Japanese people were now industrial workers instead of farmers.

Niiname-sai was re-established as Labour Thanksgiving Day. It was first celebrated in 1948 to encourage workers to play a productive role in creating a new Japan. On this day, different events are organised across the country. One of the largest events is the Nagano Labour Festival, supported by labour organisations, to raise awareness about issues affecting the environment, peace, and human rights.

All government offices and schools remain closed to honour the hard work performed by labourers. Schoolchildren are encouraged to make drawings and present them to workers in their community. On this national holiday, a large number of Japanese people spend quality time with their family and friends.

Today, Japan is one of the world’s largest economies. There is a long list of globally-recognised Japanese companies and brands in the automobile, electronics, video games and high-tech industries. These companies include Toyota, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Casio, Kenwood, and Sega.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a government agency, is also playing a pivotal role to ensure economic and social growth in developing countries. The agency is also cooperating with Pakistan to eradicate polio, develop infrastructure, build power transmissions and, strengthen domestic industries.

On the occasion of Labour Thanksgiving Day, we can learn many lessons from Japan. First, culturally-rich nations never neglect their traditions. Second, there is no permanent enemy in international diplomacy. Third, a true leadership always gives priority to national interests. To safeguard peace, there is absolutely no harm in reviewing policies in the best interest of the country and its people.

We need to work tirelessly – just like the Japanese did. We have to define our foreign policy to present our viewpoint in a better and effective manner. This can only happen if Pakistan manages to emerge as a strong economy. For this purpose, we have to focus on bilateral trade and joint ventures with the international community. We must understand that working people are the engine of the national economy. Therefore, solid steps to ensure their respect and dignity must be taken on the individual and government levels.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.