JCP urges government to stop cheering corporate restructuring and increasing
medical expenses

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo used his parliamentary question
on October 2 to urge the government to devote its efforts to solving two
major problems that make the people uneasy: jobs and medical services.

Referring to a series of corporate restructuring schemes at major
electronics makers and telecommunication corporations, Shii pointed out that
personnel cuts on an unprecedentedly large scale are a major cause of the
rising unemployment rate.

"None of these major corporations will go bankrupt even without such
restructuring," Shii said.

He demanded that the government stop cheerleading corporate restructuring
and establish rules that will regulate corporate dismissals and help improve
job security. He also said that the government should encourage companies to
create jobs by introducing work-sharing along with a shorter workweek
without pay cuts.

He urged the government to follow the August 31 recommendation made by
the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and take legal
and administrative steps to reduce the workweek.

Prime Minister Koizumi in answer expressed support for corporate
restructuring, saying that it is unavoidable for major corporations to carry
out restructuring so that they can continue to exist.

Shii warned against the government plan to increase the people's share in
medical costs to 30 percent from the present 20 percent and exclude the
elderly aged between 70 and 74 from the medical expenses discount service.
He said that such a "reform" will only make it hard for the people to pay
hospital bills and discourage them from going to hospital.

Pointing out that after the 1997 increase in the people's share in
medical costs to 20 percent from 10 percent, the number of outpatients in
their 30s, 40s, and 50s dropped by 12.4 percent, Shii said that the
government plan will threaten people's lives.

He explained that drug prices are higher in Japan than in any other
country and if they are reduced to levels of the U.S. and European
countries, Japan's medical costs can be cut by 1.45 trillion yen.

Koizumi in answer only said that a medical system "reform" is necessary,
without a word about the damage a "reformed" system may cause to the
people's health. (end)