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On the Convening of the 189th Ordinary Session of the Diet

Statement by INOUE Hisashi
Secretary General
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
January 26, 2015

The 189th Ordinary Session of the Diet convened today (January 26).  At the news conference on December 24, held after he was named by the Diet as the prime minister, ABE Shinzo said his government is committed to carrying out “the biggest reform since the end of World War II”. He went on to say, “It is natural that opinion should be divided on the reform policy and that resistance should arise. But in the recent general election we got powerful backing from the people who urge us to stay the course.” He is intent on having the upcoming Diet session adopt the bills to realize these reforms. The Prime Minister has delayed his policy speech until after passage of the supplementary budget for FY 2014 even though this is the first Diet session since the last House of Representatives general election.

He is betraying the duty of a prime minister of a democracy by disregarding public opinion and the Diet. We must not condone his “runaway” politics.

He continues to refuse to meet Okinawa Prefecture’s new governor, ONAGA Takeshi, thus turning a deaf ear to the Okinawans’ unified call, in order to keep on constructing a new US military base off the coast of the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa, by threatening to cut the government budget for Okinawa’s economic development. The Abe administration is accelerating this autocratic approach.    

Prime Minister Abe appears strongly urged to push for revising the Constitution in addition to preparing to submit a bill to allow Japan legally to exercise the right to collective self-defense (in preparation for war) after the upcoming nationwide local elections.  

photoHe says he will issue a new “statement” this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II but remains reluctant to follow the crux of the previous statements by his predecessors in regard to “colonization and aggression” and Japan’s “remorse” (On an NHK TV Sunday Debate program, January 25).  

The Japanese Constitution is in crisis. Zenroren strongly opposes any policy that would turn Japan into a country that wages war and the construction of new US bases and will play an active role in further developing people’s common action. 

With the world economy being globalized, poverty and income gap are widening and becoming a people’s serious concern, which is often referred to as Thomas Piketty phenomenon.

There is a widespread recognition throughout the world that stricter taxation of the wealthy and the raising of the minimum wage as means of redistribution of wealth are important for sound economic development.

But the budget plan compiled by the Abe administration for the next fiscal year starting in April is very generous to large corporations and the wealthy as it gives tham corporate tax cuts but includes plans that would force the general public to pay more through cutbacks in pension and welfare assistance and adverse revisions of health care, nursing care and other social services.   

The government is planning a spate of adverse reforms of the health insurance and other social programs, threatening to undermine people’s livelihoods.

While promising that workers would be paid more, the government is planning to submit a bill to revise the law on temporary agency workers , the aim being to drive workers permanently into temporary jobs and allowing employers to do business without hiring regular full-time workers. It is also planning to submit a bill to gut work time regulations including the introduction of zero overtime payments.  

These policies will only expand the income gap and further increase the poverty rate, worsening the economy. In this respect, Zenroren will continue to make known this trend in order to stop the Abe administration’s runaway politics and push for common action to change politics to one of putting people’s livelihoods first.    

Most people recognize that increasing wages and income at a faster rate than price increases is essential for the revitalization of the Japanese economy.

We should use the Spring Struggle to stop the declines in real wages by achieving a substantial wage increase for all working people, in order to improve people’s livelihoods. This is a pressing task that is important also for the revitalization of the Japanese economy.

photoZenroren will exert its main role in leading the struggle for a substantial wage increase. At the same time, it will urge the large corporations to fulfill their social responsibility, demand measures to better assist small- and medium-sized businesses and retailers in the shopping districts. It will also continue to oppose the undermining agriculture and the agricultural cooperatives and demand measures to be taken to revitalize the local economies. 

Today, 70 years after the end of World War II, the meaning of the Constitution is being called into question. Calling for the Constitution to be defended and utilized, we are determined to further increase cooperation with broader sectors of the people and with local communities to stand firm against turning Japan into a country that wages war and to bring vitality to people and local communities.

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