We demand government reconsider its ‘Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform for 2021,” which continues to stick to long-standing issues that cannot find an answer only to make people suffer
the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
June 18, 2021
The government on June 18 approved this year's basic policies for economic and fiscal management and reforms.
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says that his government “will address four main challenges - environment-friendly policies, digital transformation, local revitalization, and children so that it can give answers to the long-standing issues and aim to achieve powerful economic growth” while giving priority to implementing measures against the coronavirus.
The first “basic policy” released in June 2001 said that “the need is to reform the rules, customary practices, and systems that hinder the development of Japan’s potentials and to build up new structures that will enhance the potentials” and that, in the belief that “there is no growth without reform,” the “basic policy” would push ahead with structural reforms in economic, fiscal, administrative and social fields, and set the starting point of Japan’s future course.”
However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shows clearly how enormous the negative aspects of the consequences of the structural reforms are, as they have demolished the fiscal position, the administrative services, and society. The “basic policy” says that, without bold reforms, Japan will not be able to develop its future or take a lead in the world for prosperity. But the “basic policy,” which turns away from Japan’s realities, has for many years produced nothing but declines, and that without any self-reflection.
Regarding social security reforms, the “basic policy” calls for a system with flexibility in promptly shifting medical services to emergency response as part of the effort to build up new systems by taking advantage of the pandemic. It also declares the promotion of a regional health care system ostensibly to keep medical costs appropriate. These are designed to make health care cost-effective by reducing hospital beds and dividing the functions, the opposite of what we are calling for.
The “basic policy” also calls for the national average of the minimum wage to be made 1,000 yen per hour as soon as possible based on performance and with the regional gaps in mind, as part of the effort to revitalize the local economies that can inspire the whole country. This may reflect our movement and calls to some degree, but it stops short of making up in earnest for a freeze of last year. It pledges support to companies that make efforts to increase productivity while only urging small- and medium-sized businesses, which are in disadvantageous position, to carry out reforms. Wage increase or reducing economic inequality are not likely. We demand that the government take special steps to support workers by raising the minimum wage and through other measures in times of the coronavirus pandemic.
The “basic policy” has reduced the role of administration and expanded inequalities arising from social distortion. It is clear that the further spread of the coronavirus is undermining the ability of public services, in particular the healthcare system, to respond to emergencies. This is an important part that needs to be reviewed.
The “basic policy” talks about post-coronavirus challenges. But it should give priority to protecting the safety and living conditions of the workers and the people in general. In this respect, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be canceled.
Zenroren is prepared to do all it can in the upcoming House of Representatives election to get fiscal policy drastically changed. It is also determined to make every effort to help build up broad joint struggle with the citizens’ movement.