Zenroren Statement on the results of the House of Councilors Election
By INOUE Hisashi
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
July 11, 2016
The House of Councilors election on July 10 gave the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito 70 seats out of 121 that were up for election this time. That’s more than a majority in the chamber. The LDP garnered 56 (including one Independent who joined after his election) and Komeito 14. Forces promoting constitutional revision now have 162 seats in the chamber, or a two third majority in the House of Councilors as well as in the House of Representatives. It is possible for them to have the Diet initiate the process of constitutional revision. We must say that this is a grave situation.
Opposition parties calling for the War Laws to be repealed and for constitutionalism to be defended won no more than 44 seats. (32 for the Democratic Party, 6 for the Japanese Communist Party, 1 for each the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party, and 4 Independents supported by the 4 opposition parties.) But it’s noteworthy that they fielded their joint candidates in all 32 single-seat constituencies in a short time in cooperation with a broad citizens’ movement calling for the repeal of the War Laws, and won in 11 of them. In many other constituencies, these opposition parties put up a good fight in close races. It would be correct to say that this experience has shown that it is possible for the citizens’ movement and opposition parties to work together for the common cause. Given these election results, if the citizens’ movement and opposition parties keep on cooperating based on people’s pressing needs, we believe it is possible to realize a major change in the correlation of forces.
No sooner had the election been over when Prime Minister Abe showed a great zeal for proceeding with discussion on revising the Constitution of Japan, saying, “There are expectations that opinions about a revised text would converge in the course of discussions at the Constitution Research Council, if the nationwide understanding deepens.” The main target of Prime Minister Abe’s constitutional revision is to get rid of the restrictions set by the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, as shown by the LDP draft, with the aim of turning Japan into a country that can wage wars outside of Japan. It also proposes establishing provisions on contingencies and restricting basic human rights. Thus, the LDP draft is called into question over the question what our country should be like.
Prime Minister Abe has also spoken about his plan to compile a large-scale supplementary budget in the upcoming extraordinary session of the Diet with the aim of further promoting the recklessness of Abenomics. His policies have continued to help widen economic inequality, increase poverty and allow the wealth to be heavily distributed across large corporations and the wealthy. In addition, he will certainly use authoritarianism to accelerate the policies that are unpopular, such as the concrete plan to implement the War Laws, the construction of a new U.S. military base in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, the promotion of restart of nuclear reactors, the adverse revision of the labor laws, and the destruction of the labor market.
We must invoke our sense of crisis to step up the fightback. The reckless promotion of these government policy plans dooms to face a deepening contradictions and cracks between the Abe administration and people of all walks of life.
Zenroren’s summer and autumn campaign will focus on further strengthening cooperation with the citizens’ movement and opposition parties that has been developed throughout the country against the Abe administration’s runaway politics. In consequence we can further develop the struggle against the moves toward adversely revising the Constitution and the policy of turning Japan into a country that wages war, and for people’s pressing demands for better livelihoods and jobs. To this end Zenroren calls constantly deepening discussion on the political and economic situation for strengthening the economic struggle and the political struggle as one, under the slogan, “The citizens can change politics.”
The Constitution of Japan, constitutionalism, and people’s living conditions are undergoing the deepest crisis since the end of World War II. Aware of this fact, we are determined to put all our energy in the Tokyo gubernatorial election near at hand and in activities for realizing the various demands, and even make every effort to bring together the forces fighting to defend constitutionalism in order to achieve without fail political change in the next House of Representatives election.