7,000 take part in Day of Action demanding eradication of poverty, creation and defense of jobs, and economic recovery through expanding domestic demand
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), in cooperation with other labor organizations, including the Tokyo Regional Council of Trade Unions (Tokyo Chihyo) and the Metropolitan Joint Struggle Council of Construction Workers, held a Day of Action on February 10 to win the demands of the people. About 7,000 people attended a rally at Hibiya Amphitheater in central Tokyo. They marched in demonstration through the upscale shopping district of Ginza, and converged on the head office of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). Early in the morning they took to the streets for a publicity campaign. They also petitioned government offices and Diet members for realizing the workers’ demands in the Spring Struggle.
Speaking on behalf of the organizers at the rally at Hibiya Amphitheater, DAIKOKU Sakuji (Zenroren president) severely criticized the business leaders for pressing the government to cut corporate taxes, increase the consumption tax rate and participate in the the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP). He also criticized the Democratic Party government for being subservient to the business leaders.
Daikoku called on the participants to get more workers involved in the Spring Struggle to win a wage increase for all workers, and to demand that more orders be placed to small- and medium-sized businesses and that large corporations stop squeezing subcontractors.
Referring to the massive dismissals at the former Social Insurance Agency and Japan Airlines, Daikoku said securing old age pensions and the airline safety are national issues and called for broader support to be given to the workers fighting against illegitimate dismissals.
After speeches by some participants from various unions, the participants put up signs reading “We protect our livelihoods,” and approved the proposed Appeal.
Following is the Appeal adopted at the Feb. 10 Central Rally
Trade unions and other popular organizations joined together to hold a Central Day of Action to call for eradication of poverty, creation and security of job, better livelihoods, and for economic recovery driven by domestic demand expanding.
At the beginning of the 177th Ordinary Session of the Diet in January, Prime Minister KAN Naoto declared that he would come up with plans for Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) and tax increases. The Diet is currently discussing the draft budget for Fiscal 2011 (starting on April 1, 2011), focusing on a 5 percent cut in the corporation tax, extra funding for the stationing of the US forces in Japan and other proposals that would ensure the continuation of the policies serving the interests of large corporations and would give the military budget priority.
The government is also intent on getting budget-related bills enacted that include amendments to the nursing-care insurance law, the establishment of new child-care systems that would review the current system, and a bill to impose administrative reform under the name of “local sovereignty” at the cost of residents. The Kan Cabinet is considering raising the consumption tax rate as part of a tax reform by linking it to reforms in social services. The public is angered by these government policies that disregard the need to improve people’s livelihoods and renege on the ruling party’s promise to put people’s living conditions first.
Large corporations have increased their internal reserves to 441 trillion yen in the last ten years through cutting wages, jobs and prices of supplies they pay to subcontractors. Workers and the public in general are always forced to pay! By contrast, workers’ incomes are declining. The number of workers with an annual income of less than two million yen has reached 10 million and is still increasing. At a time when a wage increase is needed in order to boost the economy, the government is calling for wage cuts for public employees.
The unemployment rate remains as high as five percent according to government statistics. The percentage of high school and college graduates who found work is the lowest ever. To make the matter worse, mass dismissals of former Social Insurance Agency employees and Japan Airlines workers represent the flagrant violation of workers’ dignity and even put public safety at risk
The public is reacting to these current adverse moves by expressing fury and arousing broad sections of people to new joint action. People in large numbers are taking part in rallies in Okinawa, Tochigi, and Miyazaki prefectures to voice together with agriculture, forestry and fisheries communities and consumer organizations in opposition to Japan’s participation in the TPP free trade agreement. To date, 440 prefectural assemblies and 1,075 local assemblies have adopted resolutions expressing opposition to participation in the TPP agreement or requesting the government to take caution on this issue.
The popular movement calling for measures to encourage consumers to spend money as the way to economic recovery is prompting local governments to establish subsidies for housing improvement. The tenacious movement calling for a minimum wage increase and measures requiring public contractors to give their workers fair treatment has led to establishing local ordinances to this effect.
Let us be convinced of these achievements of the movement and further develop the struggle to defend people’s safety and livelihoods. Let us take the new surge of the movement into the upcoming simultaneous local elections and make local governments the bulwark of residents’ livelihoods.
We call on workers to make further efforts to advance our movement to win the demands by putting greater pressure on the government and the business sector and to force large corporations to use a part of their internal reserves for workers’ benefit and fulfill their social responsibility.