'Reform' slogan can no longer cover up wrong economic policy -- Akahata editorial, June 4

The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy has proposed the fourth report on the basic policy of the Koizumi Cabinet's "structural reform."

The report stresses that the Koizumi "reform" has achieved results in economic and fiscal management. It states that on this basis, fiscal 2006 and 2007 should be devoted to increasing the effort to carry out further reforms.

The Koizumi Cabinet came to power by promising the people to "destroy the Liberal Democratic Party". The past three years under the cabinet shows that the so-called Koizumi "reform" slogan from the outset was rhetoric to deceive the public.

Pension and highways

On the pension issue, the ruling parties rammed the pension cut bill through the Upper House committee, ignoring public opposition and despite the revelation of government lies about guaranteeing pension benefits at 50 percent of the current wage level and placing a limit on the increase in premiums. The recently enacted bills to privatize highway public corporations helped preserve the structure that allows more unnecessary highways to be constructed based on a phantom repayment plan. The people's wish for corrupt relations among politicians, bureaucrats, and business circles to be severed have been betrayed.

The so-called "trinity reform" of local finances has turned out to be nothing but a measure to shift national budget deficits onto local governments by substantially reducing local tax grants and other national expenditures for local municipalities.

The fourth report on the basic policy praises the economic "recovery" as the result of the structural reform policy. Only large corporations have reaped the highest-ever profits, helped as before by the increase in exports and corporate restructuring which the government encourages. The other side of the picture is that corporate restructuring costs jobs and lowers wages, preventing more than ever the effects of the increased corporate profits from being extended to the household economy. The report shows no sympathy for the pains of the depressed households, struggling small-and medium-sized businesses, and young people who have to either take part-time or other unstable jobs or remain jobless.

Japan's stock market has not recovered to even the level marked at the start of the Koizumi Cabinet.The Ministry of Finance has spent record amounts to hold the Japanese currency back by selling yen and buying dollars. Also, Japan's buying of U.S. government bonds propped up the dollar to make up for the U.S. budget deficit that is increasing due mainly to the costs of its war of aggression against Iraq. A fall in the dollar's value will cause immeasurable losses to Japan's finance sector.

Although major banks' bad loans may have been reduced, loans for smaller corporations remain low. The government policy only increased business failures and unemployment while benefiting major banks by using tax money to make up for their losses.

Betraying the public demand that government-run postal services be preserved, the "Koizumi reform" policy gives top priority to privatizing postal services in response to the needs of financial and business circles calling for reducing or abolishing the system of postal savings and postal life insurance.

Advocating an overhaul of the social welfare and tax systems by the end of FY 2006 so as to "secure revenue sources for social welfare," the new plan actually demands a drastic increase in the consumption tax rate. This is only a copy of the time-table designed by the business circles and the ruling coalition.

Help invigorate people's daily lives

The Koizumi policies only forced the public to endure hardships under the pretext that Japan must tackle "structural reform" designed to prolong LDP politics. But it is quite useless to repair the LDP economic policies that only served major corporations and banks and deepened Japan's economic failure coupled with corruption and collision.

In order to improve living conditions, the key to economic recovery, Japan's economic policy must be swiftly changed from one sacrificing the public and benefiting major corporations to the one truly encouraging the improvement of daily lives. (end)

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