Statement on the End of 198th Ordinary Session of the Diet
By NOMURA Yukihiro
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
June 26, 2019
The 198th Ordinary Session of the Diet came to a close on June 26. The Liberal Democratic Party’s attempt to propose a revised Constitution for parliamentary discussion has been thwarted by the power of our movement. We did not give the LDP a chance to put its plan for revising the Constitution to discussion thanks to a nationwide campaign against it, including a growing campaign to collect “Three-Million Signatures,” the successful holding of the May 3 Rally that took place across the country in defense of the Constitution as well as day-to-day efforts to let people know about the issue. Convinced of these gains, we will continue to help strengthen the movement to prevent Japan from being turned into a country that fights wars and demand the removal of US military bases in Japan, in particular opposition to a new base construction at the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture.
With the House of Councilors election slated for July, the Ordinary Session of the Diet should have provided an opportunity to seriously question the way the Diet functions. What happened was that the budget bill was enacted by a majority of the ruling parties after a discussion that was very inadequate due to a lack of precondition for policy debate. Errors were found in a series of key government statistics, including the Monthly Labor Survey. The enacted budget will shift even heavier burden onto the working people by carrying out cutbacks in social services and raising the consumption tax rate while allowing huge amounts of tax money to be used to massive purchases of US weapons.
The revelation of the series of inappropriate government data has been followed by more scandalous events. A Financial Services Agency panel’s report indicated that the average couple would face a 20-million-yen shortfall under the pension system if they were to enjoy a 30-year retirement. The Defense Ministry provided false data in explaining the reason for choosing missile defense sites. Suspicions have arisen that procedures used to approve a special economic zone status may have been concealed. Discrepancies between different government data have been revealed concerning business trends. The government sidestepped discussion over these issues in the Diet by taking advantage of ruling parties’ majority in the Diet. It failed to answer questions that people wanted to hear. We strongly denounce the Abe administration’s practice of keeping all these misconducts secret and demand all these scandals be fully resolved.
The Diet enacted a bill to prohibit harassment in the workplace but it only sets out preventive measures to help improve productivity instead of defining harassment as a human rights violation that needs to be banned. Both houses of the Diet unanimously approved the bill with a 17-item additional resolution in the House of Representatives and a 21-item additional resolution in the House of Councilors. The additional resolutions are mostly in line with what we are demanding. We won this result thanks to a statement by a Zenroren vice president as unsworn witness in the Diet, activities led by the Common Action for Jobs, including lunchtime action in front of the Diet, attendance at Diet committee meetings, meetings in the Diet building, and action in front of the Prime Minister’s office. The bill should have been amended but was not due to the government-led position of denying the separation of the three powers.
The way the Diet is run by the government, the ruling parties and their supplementary forces in disregard of the people’s interest needs to be corrected immediately. The power of the people to realize it lies in public awareness and can be exercised in the July House of Councilors election. Choosing a political power is not what the House of Councilors election is about.