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Labor’s Cold Warriors: The American Federation of Labor and ‘Free Trade Unionism’ in Cold War Japan

Gerteis, Christopher (2003) 'Labor’s Cold Warriors: The American Federation of Labor and ‘Free Trade Unionism’ in Cold War Japan.' The Journal of American-East Asian Relations, 12 (3). pp. 207-224.

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Abstract

During the 1950s, the American Federation of Labor led a global covert attempt to suppress left-led labor movements in Western Europe, the Mediterranean, West Africa, Central and South America, and East Asia. American union leaders argued that to survive the Cold War, they had to demonstrate to the United States government that organized labor was not part-and-parcel with Soviet Communism. The AFL’s agent in Tokyo was anticommunist labor activist Richard L. G. Deverall whose mission was to destabilize the leadership of the General Council of Trade Unions (Nihon Rōdō Kumiai Sōhyōgikai, or Sōhyō) by fomenting anticommunist “democratization movements” within the federation and its member unions. While the CIA for a short while found use for Lovestone’s “Asia Representative” in Japan, the masters of “Fizzland” (as Lovestone disparagingly referred to the CIA) had far greater success working with private industry associations and rightwing political parties to suppress those militant worker organizations that the AFL seemed unable to influence. During the 1950s and 1960s, the AFL-IAD consistently conflated worker militancy with Communist agitation led from the Soviet Union and focused on stamping out political agitators. But, by doing so, it played into the hands of conservative elites by crippling organizations capable of representing the economic and political interests of workers’ movements in countries where protecting business interests was considered to be the only role of the state.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres > Japan Research Centre
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History
ISSN: 10583947
Depositing User: Christopher Gerteis
Date Deposited: 26 May 2009 10:53
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/7398

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