Small business owners in national rally demand defense of livelihoods

About 1,500 small- and medium-sized business owners from throughout Japan held a national rally on September 18 in Tokyo in opposition to the government policies that have a detrimental effect on their businesses.

The rally was called by the National Liaison Council of Small- and Medium-sized Entrepreneurs Circles (Zenchuren).

Speaking on behalf of the organizer, Ichikawa Kiichi (National Federation of Traders and Producers Organizations - Zenshoren president) said, "A tax cut for large corporations is not the solution. Economic recovery needs measures that would encourage smaller businesses and reactivate local economies." He emphasized that urging major banks to write off non-performing loans will only induce them to be reluctant to lend money to small businesses.

The secretary of the Takasaki Democratic Association of Commerce and Industry, Gunma Prefecture said that smaller business owners need bank loans to continue their businesses but are usually refused. Underlining the importance of stronger unity, she said that the rally would help develop their movement.

After the rally, participants marched in a demonstration to Tokyo Station.

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Earlier in the day, Zenchuren representatives visited nine ministries, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and five megabanks, to call for measures to be taken to promote small- and medium-sized businesses and stimulate economic recovery.

Representing about 100 participants, Zenshoren President Ichikawa told Economic Minister Hiranuma Takeo that the government is counter-productive as it gives tax reductions to major companies but tax increases for small- and medium-sized enterprises. "The government should support small- and medium-sized companies because they are the backbone of Japan's economy," Ichikawa said.

Japanese Medical and Dental Practitioners for Improvement of Medical Care President Muro Noboru called on the minister to give financial support to hospitals and clinics that are in danger of bankruptcy. He said that the number of hospital visits has declined due to the increase in patients' burden of medical costs, which in turn is squeezing the financial position of medical institutions. (end)