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Shii on ways to break political uncertainty over postal privatization bill
In a TV interview broadcast on July 27, Japanese Communist Party Executive Committee Chair Shii Kazuo analyzed the present political situation which is evolving around the bill to privatize Japan's postal services. The interview by Hoshi Hiroshi, an Asahi Shimbun editorial committee member, was aired by the communication satellite TV Asahi NEWSTAR.
Postal privatization bill will undercut services
Q: What are the problems of the postal privatization bill?
A: The biggest problem is that it will cut back services to the public. If the post office is privatized, it will fall in step with banks and reduce the number of branch offices as well as force customers to pay higher fees for services.
About 340 trillion yen or nearly three trillion U.S. dollars that the post offices have collected in forms of postal savings and insurance premiums will be sacrificed to foreign investment firms. In the course of drafting the bill, the government held 18 rounds of consultations with the U.S. government and accepted the U.S. demands. Thus, this is a privatization plan serving the interests of major Japanese banks and foreign investors. It has nothing to benefit the public.
Q: The prime minister says that the postal reform bill is intended to transfer as much work as possible to the private sector from the public sector.
A: He should know that the postal services undertake what the private sector can't. Mr. Koizumi is wrong from the outset in saying that what the private sector can do should be transferred to the private sector.
Q: At the voting in the House of Representatives, many Liberal Democratic Party members rose in revolt.
A: True, this explains how unreasonable the postal bill is, but fundamentally, it shows that LDP politics is at a serious impasse. When Mr. Koizumi became prime minister, he said he would destroy the LDP. But the fact is that he has destroyed Japan's diplomacy and people's lives. As a result, he is now undercutting the LDP itself. He undermined party unity, and even inner party factions of the LDP find it difficult to maintain unity of action. The LDP's voter base is now increasingly precarious. LDP politics is now terminally ill.
We will accept a challenge if the prime minister dissolves the House of Representatives for a general election.
Q: What is the JCP's reaction to the prime minister's argument that the House of Representatives would be dissolved if the privatization bill is rejected in the House of Councilors?
A: If that is his choice, he will necessarily be condemned for acting against democracy. Having said that, if he dissolves the House of Representatives, we will accept the challenge and call on voters to return a no-confidence verdict to Prime Minister Koizumi and his Cabinet. We are determined to achieve a major JCP advance in the election.
Q: Will it be an election to call the Koizumi government into question?
A: That would be the case. In addition, the voters would be asked to call into question the LDP style of government that leaves diplomacy to the United States and shows its allegiance to business circles in dealing with domestic issues. If the general election is called, we will make it clear that the JCP will fulfill its responsibility as an opposition party regardless of whether the post-election government continues to be under LDP control or the Democratic Party of Japan takes power.
The role of the JCP is now greater than ever as it is the only party that deserves to be called an opposition party. The DPJ now says it is no longer an "opposition" party. In fact, both the LDP and the DPJ are competing with each other for the same goals: an adverse revision of the Constitution and tax increases.
Q: In the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election (July 3), the JCP won 13 seats. In this and some other recent elections the JCP has put up a good fight. What is your view of public reactions to the JCP's call for support as the only opposition party?
A: In the two recent Diet elections, the JCP was somewhat weakened by a major campaign calling for a "two-party system" as the only viable option. But it is important to note that we have regained lost ground in the recent local elections. In Tokyo, JCP candidates were elected in two 2-seat constituencies. This is important because according to the theory of a "two-party system," the JCP is supposed to be out of the running. The JCP candidate finished first in the two-seat Bunkyo Ward in Tokyo. This shows that we can achieve a major JCP advance if we heighten voter expectations for the JCP as the only opposition party. I see public responses changing.
U.S. military realignment faces new problem
Q: What is the present state of U.S. military realignment?
A: The so-called U.S. military realignment is designed to establish military preparedness to make preemptive attacks anywhere in the world. It is forcing Japan to accept strengthened U.S. bases on its soil.
In Okinawa, U.S. forces have begun live-fire exercises at an urban warfare training complex that is only 300 meters from a residential area, giving rise to protests by all Okinawans. This is clearly another example of recent changes.
Q: It seems that many important issues are on the sidelines because of the postal reform question.
A: I believe that many people are angry about the government focusing only on the postal bill instead of working hard for the benefit of the people, at a time when they are forced to endure difficult living conditions and when Japan's diplomacy is at an impasse. -- Akahata, July 28, 2005
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