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On the results of the 23rd House of Councilors election

Statement by ODAGAWA Yoshikazu
Secretary General of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
July 22, 2013

In the House of Councilors election on July 21 the ruling Liberal Democratic Party won 65 seats, more than half of its seats that were up for election. The ruling coalition of the LDP and New Komeito will control the House of Councilors without difficulty.

At issue in this election was to be Abenomics, the policy that promotes labor market collapse and disintegration of social security programs. But, with stocks rallying and the yen falling, Abenomics averted public criticism.

Also at issue was whether the Constitution's Article 96 should be amended. This article provides for requirements for amending the Constitution. Parties advocating the need to ease the requirements fell below the two-thirds majority of 162. This has put certain brakes on the moves toward adverse revision of the Constitution.

The Democratic Party of Japan suffered a crushing setback as it did in the last year's House of Representatives general election. This testifies that the "two party system" is failing.

The Restoration Party, which made a rapid advance in the House of Representatives general election, won only 8 seats, including just 2 in prefectural constituencies. Despite mass media hailing it as emergence of a "third force", its true colors as a force promoting the adverse revision of the Constitution and structural reforms were revealed by the people.

The Japanese Communist Party garnered 8 seats, more than double its seats up for election. The 8 seats are added to 3 seats that were not up for election at this time. Now that the JCP has 11 members, it has the right to submit bills in the House of Councilors. The JCP won a seat in the Tokyo constituency for the first time in 12 years and in Osaka and Kyoto for the first time in 15 years. These JCP successes in urban areas are linked to people’s expectations running high for the JCP as a political force capable of putting an end to the misgovernment of the coalition government of the LDP and New Komeito. The JCP has made clear that Abenomics represents policies that will destroy people’s livelihoods, condemned so-called “black businesses” for destroying decent jobs, and put up clear opposition to the restarting of the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Voter turnout is estimated at 52 percent. Low voter turnout has been continuing since the last House of Representatives general election. It is attributed to the House of Councilors election system in which 31 out of 47 prefectural constituencies are single-seat constituencies, where so many parties stand their candidates, and to public criticism of the Democratic Party for repeatedly breaking its promises. This remains the same as in the last House of Representatives general election.

Viewed in the light of this fact, the results of the latest House of Councilors election do not mean giving the LDP a freehand to implement adverse revision of the Constitution, the adverse revision of the labor laws under the pretext of the need to achieve economic growth, the restart of nuclear power plants and foreign sales of reactors, and Abenomics, which includes a consumption tax increase and tax cuts on corporate investments.

Zenroren used the House of Councilors election as an opportunity to step up the struggle to improve people’s livelihoods and secure jobs for workers. It took part in the electoral struggle linking the workers’ demands with growing public opposition to the restart of nuclear power plants and to Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations.

The election results are far from what the general public wanted. But efforts made by workers and their unions affiliated with Zenroren have helped to increase public criticism of the government’s economic policies in favor of large corporations which are amassing huge amounts of internal reserves. They also helped raise the level of awareness of the need for politics that would help people increase their incomes and the need to increase their voices against a consumption tax increase and adverse constitutional revisions.

Convinced with what we have achieved in this election, Zenroren will affront the Abe administration’s promotion of undemocratic policies and do all it can to defend world peace, people’s livelihoods, and employment, with the Constitution as the guide.

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