The Yuaikai (Friendly Society) was the only large, national labor organization in 1912–1919 Japan. Its founder, Suzuky Bunji, an intellectual and Christian humanist, believed that cooperation between labor and management was the key to developing the Yuaikai into a true labor union movement in a day when organized labor was held in suspicion. Accordingly, Suzuki organized the Yuaikai workers into potential unions and tried to persuade business and government to accept a moderate union movement. Suzuki's gradualist tactice resulted in expansion of the Yuaikai. By 1917, after two trips to the United States, Suzuki had become the symbol of Japanese organized labor at home and abroad. But Suzuki's moderate approach to reform was jolted by repression of the Yuaikai in 1917–1918 by business and government and his moderate leadership in the Yuaikai was challenged by militant workers who resented intellectual domination of their movement and by radical university graduates who sought to turn the Yuaikai into a revolutionary organization. These two groups conspired to turn the Yuaikai into the relatively militant Sodomei (General Federation) in 1919 and to reduce Suzuki's power in the movement but their revalry for power greatly undermined the capacity of the Sodomei to build further on the institutional foundations laid for organized labor by Suzuki Bunji.

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