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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 November 22 - 28  > JCP Yamashita grills PM in Upper House
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2017 November 22 - 28 [POLITICS]

JCP Yamashita grills PM in Upper House

November 23, 2017

Japanese Communist Party Vice Chair Yamashita Yoshiki on November 22 took the rostrum at the House of Councilors plenary session and criticized PM Abe for sticking to reactivation of nuclear power plants, the introduction of a “zero-overtime payment” system, and the intent to exclude the elderly with dementia from nursing-care services.

Reactivation of nuclear power plants

Yamashita first cited that even under the situation where 68,000 Fukushima victims are still unable to return to their homes, the Abe government plans to end housing assistance to voluntary evacuees at the end of 2018, in addition to the termination of compensation payments for mental anguish. Yamashita said, “The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the crippled Fukushima NPP, should fulfill their responsibility to work to restore all victims to their previous living conditions.”

Yamashita pointed out that the Abe government’s stance to reactivate about 30 offline nuclear reactors across Japan totally runs counter to public opinion. Noting that in all opinion polls, the percentage of respondents saying “No” to the reactivation is two times higher than that of pro-reactivation responses, Yamashita demanded that the government cancel the restart of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP and instead make a political decision for Japan to forego nuclear power generation.

PM Abe in reply said, “It seems to me that a zero-nuclear power policy is less-than-responsible,” clearly showing his intent to bring idled reactors back online.

'Workstyle reform'

Yamashita criticized the Abe administration for its intent to create a zero-overtime payment system and legalize overtime exceeding the government-set 80 hours overtime/month “karoshi (death from overwork)” line under the guise of “workstyle reform”. Yamashita said that those who lost their loved one due to extreme overwork demand reform which would provide workers with decent working conditions.

Although PM Abe expressed his determination to take measures to prevent a recurrence of tragic deaths from overwork, he asserted that he will go forward with the pro-business “workstyle reform”.

Yamashita also took up the attempt of large corporations such as Toyota and Honda and major national universities to evade the law which requires employers to offer open-ended contracts to fixed-term contract workers with five years of service. In response to Yamashita who condemned this tactic for causing large-scale unemployment, Abe said that the government will take necessary measures after verifying the situation.

Exclusion of elderly people with dementia from nursing-care services

Yamashita pointed out that the government plan to revise the nursing-care insurance program will exclude elderly people with dementia from receiving in-home care services. Referring to the government data which shows that one out of every four seniors over 85 have dementia, Yamashita urged Abe to cancel the plan.

PM Abe said, “The government will discuss measures from the standpoint of encouraging elderly persons, including dementia patients, to take care of themselves,” showing his reluctance to cancel the plan.

Past related articles:
> NHK should keep its worker’s ‘karoshi’ in mind when reporting on Abe’s labor reform [October 27, 2017]
> Labor ministry’s panel begins discussing relaxation of working hour rules [September 9, 2017]
> Don’t discard Fukushima victims for the sake of NPP restarts and exports: JCP Chair [March 11, 2017]
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