Prime minister promises to consider improvement of assistance to the jobless

Pressed by the Japanese Communist Party to improve government assistance to the unemployed and other sectors of the people in need of financial help to live, Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has promised to have the proposal considered in the Health, Welfare, and Labor Ministry.

This was during the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on October 24 in which JCP member Sasaki Kensho was questioning the prime minister. Sasaki urged Koizumi to make interest-free loans available to those people whose unemployment benefits expired and to extend the repayment period.

The prime minister also stated that the government will establish a fund for emergency financial assistance for tuition for children whose parents became unemployed.

Showing a panel that illustrates the vicious circle of the quick disposal of bad loans and increases in new bad loans, Sasaki criticized the government policy for further aggravating the economy. Prime Minister Koizumi somewhat admitted to the accuracy of this vicious circle by saying, "The amount of new bad loans was more than I expected."

Sasaki said, "From banks' viewpoints, they are bad loans, but from the viewpoint of the Japanese economy, smaller businesses are contributing to revitalizing local economies and creating jobs in localities."

Sasaki explained that 10 percent of smaller firms went bankrupt in the past year in a ward in Tokyo due to banks' reluctance to lend them money, and that only 20 percent out of more than 3.6 million completely unemployed people are receiving unemployment benefits. He urged Prime Minister Koizumi to drastically change the present ineffective measures. (end)