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Statement on the Start of the 2011 Spring Struggle

The People’s Spring Struggle Joint National Committee on January 12 released the following statement signaling the start of the 2011 Spring Struggle:

We are entering the real phase of the 2011 Spring Struggle at a time when a sense of stagnation is prevailing in all areas of life, political, economic and social. The unemployment rate in Japan remains as high as 5 percent. How extraordinary it is for wages to have been declining for more than 10 years! Employers are continuing to replace full-time jobs with contingent ones. These are some of the examples showing that “deterioration in quality of labor” in Japan has no parallel in any other country. Nearly one in every four Japanese workers earns less than 2,000,000 yen (about 24,000 US dollars or 18,000 euros). Many workers cannot afford to buy cars or electronics appliances. Many households are having difficulty making ends meet. With demand contracting, many companies are scaling down production, which in turn is causing a collapse of the labor market and putting small- and medium-sized businesses into crisis and depriving young people of a bright future because they find it very difficult to get married or rear their children. Our livelihoods are on the verge of collapse.

In contrast, large corporations that are increasing earnings mainly through exports are relieved by huge amounts of tax money enabling them to achieve a “V-shape recovery”. They amassed 441 trillion yen in internal reserves in ten years. This amount is 1.8 times that in 1999. This has been made possible by shifting as much cost as possible onto workers and the public generally, through wage cuts, dismissals, the use of more contingent workers and beating down prices paid to small- and medium-sized subcontractors.

A majority of the people who wanted this situation changed voted to change government. They wanted a fundamental change in the government’s direction, from one of promoting the so-called “structural reform” policies that puts large corporations’ interest first, to one of giving priority to defending people’s livelihoods. However, the Democratic Party government has gone against the public’s expectations by returning to the old strategy only to help large corporations grow. It is aiming for an adverse revision of the health insurance system in exchange for abolishing the discriminatory health insurance system for the aged 75 and older, and cutbacks in the minimum standards of national life under the name of “regional sovereignty.” It is pushing for these adverse meassures while promoting corporate tax cuts, a consumption tax increase, Japan’s participation in the regional free trade agreement, TPP, and exports of infrastructure. This strategy, driven by an initiative of the business sector, will further weaken domestic demand and drive the Japanese economy into deeper recession.

In many other countries, workers’ wages have been going up steadily even in times of a global economic downturn. Why can’t Japan do the same? Why can’t Japan change the present economic structure to distribute wealth to workers and small- and medium-sized businesses through establishing an income security system and fair trade, and through tax and social security reforms? These measures hold the key to rebuilding the Japanese economy.

We will make the 2011 Spring Struggle a milestone toward putting an end to pro-big business policies so that workers and the general public can earn more money to spend and that domestic demand will increase from regions.

The People’s Spring Struggle Joint National Committee will stick with winning workers’ demands under the slogan, “Win wage increase and jobs for all workers and economic recovery driven by domestic demand increase.”

We demand a wage increase of more than 100 yen per hour and more than 10,000 yen per month. We urge large corporations to use a part of their internal reserves for the benefit of the public by raising wages and stabilizing the employment.

We demand improvements in the employment rules, including a fundamental revision to the Worker Dispatch Law and a stricter regulation on fixed-term labor contracts. We demand the establishment of a national minimum wage at 1,000 yen.

Let us move forward to increase common action with small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs, independent traders and producers, and those engaged in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

We call on all workers and people to join us in the 2011 Spring Struggle to improve workers living conditions and revitalize regional economies.

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