Tuesday, July 19, 2016

National Rail-workers Union activist SAKUMA Tadao passes away – In respect for each activist

Sakuma encountered the air raid during World War II in 1945, when he joined the Japanese National Railways at the age of fourteen. Ever since, he had been an activist of the National Rail-workers Union (Kokuro) and a symbol of the struggle for the reinstatement of 1,047 former JNR workers who were dismissed in the process of the JNR’s privatization. Also, Sakuma is one of the heroes of a documentary film “Be More Human – Kokuro’s 15-Year Struggle” produced by Video Press. He had been trying to recuperate from prostate cancer since two and a half years ago. His family members contacted me on July 8, 2016, saying that he had fallen into a critical condition. I got to the hospital in Tokyo to see him on the following day. Although he was blind and unable to talk, he answered me when I talked to him. He also reacted to NEZU Kimiko, who filed a lawsuit against an unfair practice of the Tokyo Metropolitan Education Board for refusing to stand up during the playing of Kimigayo, Japan’s controversial national anthem. She won the lawsuit at the Supreme Court. At 6:40 am on July 10, Sakuma passed away peacefully at the age of 85. (MATSUBARA Akira)


1945年に大空襲を体験し、その年14歳で国鉄に入社。以来、国労運動ひとすじの 佐久間忠夫さんは、JR不採用・1047名解雇撤回闘争のシンボル的存在でした。ま たビデオプレスがつくったドキュメンタリー映画『人らしく生きよう-国労冬物 語』の主人公です。2年半前から、前立腺がんで東京・大田区の病院で療養して いました。私が、佐久間忠夫さんの家族から「容態が悪化した」と連絡を受けた のは7月8日でした。翌9日、病院に駆けつけました。眼は見えず話もできません でしたが、耳は聞こえるようで、耳元で「来たよ」というと「うん、うん」と首 をふります。一緒だった根津公子さんは、佐久間さんに「毎回傍聴にきてくれた 停職処分裁判に最高裁で勝利したよ。本当にありがとう」と語りかけると深く頷 いていました。そして、翌朝10日の6時40分に息を引き取りました。延命措置は しなかったので、苦しむこともなく枯れるように亡くなりました。85歳でした。 (松原明)

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