Let us drive Suga’s government, which is failing to protect the people, into dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election.
--Zenroren statement on the opening of the 204th ordinary session of the Diet
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
January 18, 2021
The 204th Ordinary Session of the Diet opened today amid a coronavirus pandemic leading to declaration of another state of emergency. Frontline professionals at many hospitals and public health centers are saying they are reaching breaking point. Suicide rates are on the rise among destitute people. The anti-coronavirus measures taken by the government of Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide give the “economy” priority and put people’s lives on the backburner, clinging to a travel discount program called “Go To Travel” in defiance of strong public criticism. Following the declaration of a state of emergency, the government asked restaurant operators to shorten their hours. Thus, the government is falling behind in taking steps in a timely manner. The responsibility of the Suga government for the missteps is great. Since the start of Prime Minister Suga’s government, the urgent need has been to take drastic measures to secure people’s lives and living, the employment and businesses. Nevertheless, the government refused to listen to opposition parties’ call for the extraordinary Diet session to be extended. The public support rate of the Suga Cabinet has sharply dropped. The prime minister’s lack of leadership is widely pointed out. He should stop calling on the public for “self-help and mutual assistance” in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. We demand change of government so that anti-coronavirus measures will be taken primarily to protect people’s lives.
The third supplementary budget plan approved by the Cabinet on December 15 does not include money to help hospitals make up for losses or to expand the PCR tests throughout the country. It gives only 4.4 trillion yen (about 41 billion US dollars) to the infection prevention measures while 11.7 trillion yen (about 110 billion US dollars) is earmarked for the “Go to Travel” discount program to be extended until June under the name of an “economic structural reform” policy to be implemented after an end of the pandemic even though there is no end of the pandemic in sight, and for the promotion of digitalization. The digitalization project, which the government is calling for by taking advantage of disasters, is focusing on personal data services to push ahead with building a surveillance society. The budget plan also provides 386.7 billion yen (about 3.6 billion US dollars) for military expenditure. Coupled with the initial budget plan for FY2021 (starting in April 2021) that provides 5.3422 trillion yen (508 billion US dollars) , a record high for the seventh straight year, the government is going to spend a total of 5.7 trillion yen (about 54.2 billion US dollars) for military buildup. Now is the time to recompile the supplementary budget to end the economic policy that puts corporate interest first and to cancel the purchase of first-strike weapons to redirect tax money to protect people’s livelihoods.
Amid surging coronavirus infections, the Suga government is seeking to revise the anti-coronavirus special measures law and the infectious disease law so that anyone who has refused to comply with a request for temporary business closure or to be hospitalized will be punished. Fundamental human rights may be restricted to some extent for public well-being, but policy should be that “request for business closure” and compensation are inseparable and that utmost consideration is given to defending human rights. The Japanese Medical Science Federation has issued an urgent statement pointing out that the provision to impose a penalty will make it possible to deter infections. We oppose amending the coronavirus special measures law because it will violate people’s freedom and basic rights.
The Suga government has refused to explain why it rejected appointment of several new members of the Japan Science Council. The Cabinet has approved the 5th plan to promote gender equality by deleting the draft’s provision allowing married couples to use different surnames. Prime Minister Suga, who expressed his zeal to revise the Constitution, is intent on initiating the process of constitutional revision by seeking to get the bill to amend the national referendum law put to a vote and enacted during the current Ordinary Session of the Diet.
In dealing with political corruption involving money, including the “cherry blossom viewing event” scandal, Prime Minister Suga continues to pretend he has nothing to do with it and shows no willingness to fulfill his accountability about the affair. Ten years after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, he is going against the sentiments of those who have lost their hometowns and against people’s opposition to restarting nuclear reactors. This is how the Suga government is seeking to perpetuate nuclear power generation.
In the January 17 mayoral election in the city of Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture, a candidate for “All Okinawa” opposition forces defeated the incumbent mayor backed by Prime Minister Suga’s ruling parties. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has given up running a candidate in a by-election slated for April 25 to fill a vacancy in the House of Representatives for Hokkaido’s No. 2 electoral district- a loss by default. We are firmly determined to do all we can to force the Suga government, which fails to protect the lives of the people, to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election so that we can change government to realize politics guided by the Constitution.