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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 June 27 - July 3  > Reactions of consumers, disabled persons, and 3.11 survivors to tax hike
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2012 June 27 - July 3 TOP3 [ECONOMY]

Reactions of consumers, disabled persons, and 3.11 survivors to tax hike

June 27, 2012
“It’ll be difficult for poor students like me. Why do they increase the consumption tax? They can secure resources from other areas, can’t they?” A 25-year-old vocational school student thus expressed his thoughts and signed a petition that the Japanese Communist Party was collecting against an increase in the consumption tax.

It was in the evening of June 26 after the Democratic, Liberal Democratic, and Komei parties used their majority force to railroad tax bills through the Lower House. The student was applauding JCP activists for taking to the streets of Shinjuku in Tokyo in opposition to the forcible passage of the bill.

Standing on top of a JCP sound truck, Chair Shii Kazuo criticized the ruling DPJ for “having broken its word to voters, turning its back on the general public.”

Workers on their way home stopped one after another to listen to the JCP chair.

When Shii shouted, “Together with ordinary people, we the JCP will do our utmost to have the tax hike bill scrapped in the coming Upper House deliberation,” a loud burst of applause arose from the audience.

A 65-year-old self-employed business owner said in anger, “No way! It’s an insult to us!” Writing his name on the anti-tax hike petition, he added, “This is my first time signing a petition.” He told an Akahata reporter that he had voted for the DPJ in the 2009 general election.

* * *

“We, disabled, are trapped in a low income. Even if there was no consumption tax burden, we would be poor. If the consumption tax rate is increased to 8%, then to 10%, and the benefits are also cut, we will be unable to survive,” said Shimoji Kazuyo, 64, who lives in Saitama’s Kawagoe City.

Shimoji lost her left hand in an accident at her workplace 48 years ago. She is now working 3 days a week at a store selling handmade goods made by the handicapped. Her monthly income, including a disability pension benefit, is less than 80,000 yen.

She said, “The government argues that consumption tax revenues will be used to improve the social services system. However, the amount appropriate for the social welfare system will be only a small part of the increased consumption tax revenues. The government should make high-income earners pay more based on their taxpaying capacity.”

Izumisawa Hitoshi, 60, said, “I want the government to forgo raising the consumption tax rate because it will crush disaster survivors’ hopes for recovery.” He was evacuated from Okuma Town, which hosted the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to Aizuwakamatsu City within Fukushima.

Evacuees living in temporary housing facilities are worrying whether they can return to their homes.

Many refugees from Okuma Town now recognize that it will be difficult for them to be able to return to their hometown due to the radioactive contamination caused by the nuclear accident. They are unable to return to their homes and are in a state of limbo.

“A consumption tax hike will be another attack on the disaster victims as we are trying to rebuild our homes. While there are few victims who can afford to build houses in the first place, such a tax increase will discourage every reconstruction effort.”

In temporary housing facilities, more and more people are shutting themselves up in their units. Izumisawa is worried that a consumption tax hike will make it even more difficult to alleviate this problem. Many residents stay in their units for fear that going out costs too much.

“The government is hurting instead of helping. We cannot accept a consumption tax hike,” he said.

“I’m seething with rage!” said Nakajima Takashi, who runs a grocery store in Soma City in the 3.11 disaster-hit prefecture of Fukushima.

He went on to say, “It is said that reconstruction demands will provide a boost to the economy, but the economic situation in disaster-stricken areas is really bad. Our income has decreased because many of us lost our jobs. Instead of responding to this situation, the government imposes further financial burdens on us through a consumption tax hike. What an irresponsible government!”

He added, “The government should not forget that we survivors are struggling with damages caused by the natural disaster and the nuclear accident. It is time to bring down the curtain on a government that pushes hard for a higher consumption tax rate rather than helping us to restore our lives.”
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