Citizens direct anger at Tokyo's welfare cut plans

In Tokyo, as the Metropolitan Assembly's autumn session opened on September 18, over 700 citizens converged on the Tokyo government office in protest against Governor Ishihara Shintaro's plan to abolish welfare services to place emphasis on large-scale development projects.

Nursery teachers, elderly people, union members, and parents of school children participated in the action holding banners reading, "Child care can't be measured by cost performance" and "Please don't burden us with heavier medical expenses." They shouted, "Defend our livelihoods" at the metropolitan government office.

Governor Ishihara in his policy speech on the same day put forward plans that included major adverse changes. Some of the changes include the abolition the Tokyo Metropolitan Maternity and Child Health Institute, the transfer of management of metropolitan-owned welfare facilities to for-profit bodies, the construction of three beltways, the reduction of the number of public hospitals to 8 from the present 16 through their closure or consolidation, an increase in elderly and handicapped people's burden of medical costs, and mergers and closures of metropolitan high schools, including evening high schools. Ishihara also expressed his intention to open a casino.

A mother said, "1,000 babies are born each year at the Maternity and Child Health Institute, and we feel safe to go to see doctors there even at night. Please don't abolish the institute."

A father said, "Evening high schools have been playing a significant role." A nursery teacher complained, "I can't permit the governor's remark that social welfare services are useless in Tokyo." (end)