Japan Press Weekly
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5,000 rally for better medical and nursing care services
On October 19, about 5,000 people took part in a rally in Tokyo to press the government to increase expenditures on social programs, in particular with the aim of improving medical and nursing-care services.
The rally was sponsored by 12 organizations, including the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (Min-iren), the Japan Federation of Medical Workerfs Unions (Iroren), and the National Union of Welfare and Childcare Workers.
The rally also called for an increase in the number of doctors and nurses as well as the abolition of the new health insurance system that discriminates against the elderly aged 75 and over.
Iroren Chair Tanaka Chieko stressed that medical and welfare workers have struggled to improve their working conditions and their call has won more public support. She called on participants to use the upcoming general election as an opportunity to get social insurance programs drastically improved.
A 41-year-old doctor from Aomori Prefecture spoke about his long working hours with excessive workloads. Due to the shortage of doctors, he is so busy that he is often forced to work late into the night without having time to eat lunch, he said.
Care workers revealed their low-wages. Medical students, dialysis patients, and residents campaigning for proper maintenance of public hospitals also gave speeches.
Participants marched in demonstration through the upscale shopping district of Ginza after the rally. Japanese Communist Party House of Councilors member Koike Akira participated in the action. - Akahata, October 20, 2008
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