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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 30 - February 5  > Shii grills Abe on false monthly surveys and Japan-Russia territorial talks
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2019 January 30 - February 5 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Shii grills Abe on false monthly surveys and Japan-Russia territorial talks

February 1, 2019
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on January 31 at the House of Representatives Plenary Session grilled Prime Minister Abe Shinzo about his policy on important domestic issues which include the false monthly labor survey data, the planned consumption tax hike, the Henoko base project, and the Japan-Russia territorial talks. He expressed his determination to make his utmost effort to strengthen joint struggles of opposition parties and concerned citizens to replace the Abe government with a government which will implement people-oriented policies.

Fabrication of monthly labor survey

Taking to the rostrum on behalf of the JCP, Shii began his interpellation with bringing up the issue of the distorted monthly labor statistics.

Shii pointed out that 20 million people have suffered a total loss of 56.7 billion yen. He pointed out that the manipulation of statistical data in the monthly survey not only affected the government understanding of economic conditions and thus the policy-making process, but also undermined the basis of Diet discussions regarding the FY2019 budget plan. Shii noted that high-ranking officials of the Labor Ministry have neglected their duty to report on the falsification of labor surveys and secretly made corrections in the survey results. Nevertheless, Shii said that a special inspection committee in its report concluded that it found no evidence supporting systematic cover-ups. He demanded that the government conduct thorough, independent investigations to uncover the facts.

Consumption tax hike

Regarding the planned consumption tax hike in October, Shii pointed out that the Japanese economy is experiencing a serious slump in consumer spending as shown by a slow-down in household expenditure and in the GDP growth rate. In addition, Shii referred to the fact that the Labor Ministry’s manipulation of monthly data on working conditions glossed over the issue of stagnant wages, and urged PM Abe to cancel the planned tax rate increase to 10%.

In response, PM Abe insisted that the income situation continues to improve, showing his intent to push ahead with the tax hike as proposed. Shii countered that what the government should do is not to impose heavier tax burdens on the general public but to put an end to the preferential taxation measures benefiting the extremely rich and large corporations.

Abe: Japan won’t seek return of Chishima Islands from Russia

Citing the fact that Abe repeatedly expressed his determination to settle the territorial issue with Russia, Shii criticized Abe for intending to make a significant territorial concession in an attempt to proceed with talks on a Japan-Russia peace treaty. Shii noted that Abe appears to have in mind the option to give up Kunashiri and Etorofu islands, two of the four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan. He urged Abe to promise to not take this option before the Diet. However, Abe made no concrete response.

Shii claimed that in the first place, the root of the so-called “Northern Territories” issue is the former Soviet Union’s unjust takeover of the Chishima Islands at the end of WWII, which is in violation of the principle of non-territorial expansion. He stated that by taking a stance to redress this unjust postwar disposition, Japan should call on Russia to return the Chishima Islands, including Kunashiri and Etorofu, and that this is the only way to solve the territorial dispute. In response, Abe said that the government will not make such a call as Japan renounced its claim to the Chishima Islands in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Abe’s reply is in line with the successive Japanese governments’ position that Kunashiri and Etorofu islands are the “Southern Chishima Islands” and therefore not included in the Chishima Islands defined by the peace treaty.

Abe should give up construction of US base in Henoko

Shii criticized Abe for pushing forward with the controversial project to construct a new U.S. base in Okinawa’s Henoko coastal area. He said that the government earlier this month decided to implement additional seabed improvement work at the reclamation work site in Henoko despite the fact that the seabed problem was already pointed out by the Defense Ministry’s report in March 2016. Shii went on to say that the government concealed the soft seabed issue until the reclamation work was well underway. Shii stressed that this is a dirty tactic used to create a fait accompli concerning the construction work.

Shii said that in order to carry out the additional work, the government needs to obtain approval from Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny, but the governor opposes the Henoko base project and will not give his consent. Shii said that the Abe government should give up on the Henoko base project.
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