Zenroren on the inauguration of new Japanese government led by Prime Minister KAN Naoto
Statement by ODAGAWA Yoshikzu (Zenroren Secretary General)
June 8, 2010
The Democratic Party of Japan’s new leader, KAN Naoto, was named by the Diet as prime minister on June 4. He formed the new cabinet on June 8. However, the fact of the matter is that the new Cabinet was established by the parliamentary majority following the resignation of former Prime Minister HATOYAMA Yukio. It is another irresponsible rotation of political power without mandate given by the people in an election.
Knowing that the House of Councilors election, which will be held in a month’s time, will be an occasion for voters to give the Kan government a verdict, we make clear how Zenroren evaluates the Kan government at its start.
The inauguration of the new government was a necessity for the ruling DPJ, which needed to make some cosmetic changes in preparation for the upcoming House of Councilors election because of the recent rapid fall of the public’s rating of former Prime Minister Hatoyama. As expectations are running high for the new prime minister,
the percentage of respondents expressing their willingness to vote for the DPJ in the House of Councilors election is high. But we must draw attention to the following two points:
One is that Kan, in his statement as a candidate for DPJ president, stated that he would accept the Japan-U.S. agreement on relocating the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan Citywithin Okinawa. However, “Futenma” was the issue that drove Hatoyama into resignation. This is one of the key issues that would test the DPJ’s basic policy stance.
Former Prime Minister Hatoyama did not hesitate to renege on a promise he made to Okinawans and the nation by putting an agreement with a foreign government before the promise. This is what might be called “business as usual”, precisely what the rule of the Liberal Democratic Party was about. His attitude is in complete disregard of the indignation expressed by the Japanese people as well as by Okinawans, who have reached their limit of patience.
The other is that the lineup the new prime minister has chosen is not something that offers any major changes in policies, as clear from the fact that many of the new cabinet members were reappointed. Kan appointed the former state minister for national strategy as Chief Cabinet Secretary and promoted the former deputy finance minister to finance minister. He chose people who drew public attention as parliamentarians playing an active role in scrutinizing budget allocations. One such person was named DPJ secretary general. All this gives rise to our concern that the new government as well as the ruling party leadership may be looking to a return to neo-liberal policies under the name of “structural reform.”
The previous government betrayed people’s expectations. It shelved the plan to abolish the health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over. It introduced a bill to “revise” the Worker Dispatch Law with many loopholes. It is contrary to its promise to move away from “structural reform” policies. What is more, as clear from the discussion that took place in the course of drawing up its “new growth strategy,” the previous government switched to a policy of putting the most emphasis on the need to help increase the international competitiveness of corporations.
A series of actions reneging on its public promises as well as the political stance of the DPJ government have disgusted the public, leading to the resignation of the Hatoyama Cabinet. Many are concerned that the new cabinet led by Prime Minister Kan may continue and even further promote the “structural reform” policies that run counter to what the public has expected from the government.
The poverty rate is increasing and economic inequalities are widening. Uncertainties about jobs and financial uncertainties are increasing among small- and medium-sized businesses. The spreading foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki Prefecture is endangering food security. The number of suicides remains high. People are increasingly concerned about their life. The need now is to establish politics that starts from the needs of the public. We demand that the Kan government remember what the public expected from the DPJ government at its start instead of politicking for the DPJ just with the upcoming House of Councilors election in mind. The new government must break away from the “structural reform” policies and take steps toward developing a Japan-U.S. relationship structured on an equal footing.