Statement on the Opening of the Extraordinary Session of Diet
Secretary General, National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
October 27, 2020
The 203rd Extraordinary Session of the Diet opened on October 26. This comes after the ruling parties’ rejection of opposition parties’ call for extending the last Ordinary Session of the Diet at a time when there is no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight. The government even rejected the call for an early convening of an extraordinary session in conformity with Article 53 of the Constitution. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide should know that making light of parliament is tantamount to despising the public.
In his first policy speech in the Diet since taking office, the prime minister said he is aiming to create a carbon-free society by 2050. He called for change in way of thinking by arguing that the fight against global warming will lead to substantial economic growth. A bill was submitted jointly by opposition parties to abolish nuclear power generation and shift to relying on renewable energy sources. But the proposal has never been taken up at the House of Representatives Committee on Economy, Trade, and Industry for three years due to the ruling parties’ refusal to hold discussions. We demand that Prime Minister Suga change way of thinking and that the Extraordinary Session of the Diet should begin discussing the bill to abolish nuclear power generation, which is a call arising from 70 percent of the population.
He failed to refer to the government’s refusal to appoint six academics as new members of the Science Council of Japan. He still keeps silent on the reason of the refusal. Clearly, the Science Council of Japan’s refusal to cooperate with the government in military-related research underlies the government’s attitude. The Council started came into being on a remorse over the scientists’ cooperation in the last War. Its autonomous position in relation to the government is guaranteed. Academic/research achievements must be returned to society and the public. The prime minister’s refusal to appoint the six academics distorts this rule and therefore is unconscionable. We demand that the prime minister revoke the rejection and swiftly appoint them.
A job crisis and business crisis are increasing due to dismissals and wage cuts taking place in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. People’s livelihoods are increasingly difficult as the number of suicides rises. Prime Minister Suga stresses the need of “self-help” for those people who do not have means of “self-help” or “mutual support.” He is unable to see people’s sufferings. We demand that the government act immediately to take necessary measures and staff more workers in response to the calls from front lines in social services such as health care, and nursing care, childcare as well as the public health centers. We demand the establishment of a national minimum wage system and a sharp minimum wage increase as well as a consumption tax cut.
Prime Minister Suga says, “No reconstruction in Tohoku without reconstruction of Fukushima.” He also says that the government will stand with the people affected by the disaster. But he is set to allow the release of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the ocean. This is exactly the same as what he is doing on Okinawa: while saying he stands with Okinawa Prefecture, he has no intention to face up to Okinawans and is pushing ahead with the construction of a new US military base in the Henoko district of Okinawa Prefecture even by destroying local autonomy. On the issue of the radioactive water in Fukushima Prefecture, we demand that the government should make public all relevant information and ensure that nationwide discussion can take place on the basis of scientific knowledge.
The number of countries that have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has reached 50. The treaty is set to go into effect on January 22 next year. Prime Minister Suga mentioned nothing about the treaty in his policy speech. We demand that Japan swiftly ratify the treaty. The government has the responsibility to fulfill to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons as the government of the only atom-bombed country in response to the earnest desire of the Hibakusha.
On the Constitution of Japan, the prime minister called for the Commission on the Constitution of the House of Representatives begin discussing the issue. Prime Minister Suga is right when he says the people have the right to decide on what the Constitution should be like. He should take a hard look at the fact that many people did not support former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s call for discussion on constitutional revision. The government should work first to protect people’s lives and livelihoods instead of trying to focus on digitalization of administration.
Zenroren will make every effort to move away from the “Abe politics” by joining forces with all people and workers who throw support behind joint struggle by the citizens’ movement and opposition parties, in cooperation with efforts in the Diet by opposition parties that stand for constitutionalism.