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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 October 8 - 14  > Reduce military budget to fund social services
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2008 October 8 - 14 [POLITICS]

Reduce military budget to fund social services

October 13, 2008
Akahata editorial

One of the major issues in national politics is how to secure fiscal resources to support future social services, including medical services, pension payments, and nursing care for the elderly.

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo in the House of Representatives Plenary Session on October 2 demanded that Prime Minister Aso Taro move to stop giving large corporations and the wealthy tax breaks. He said this will save seven trillion yen. He also demanded that the government slash the five trillion yen military budget so that more tax money will be used for social services. Big cuts in military expenditure are indispensable if Japan is to improve social services without raising the consumption tax.

However, Prime Minister Aso rejected Shii’s request on the grounds that the “military budget is essential for Japan’s security.”

The argument that the military budget is essential for Japan’s security is false. The “sympathy” budget for funding the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan and the increasing budget for SDF deployments abroad have nothing to do with defending Japan.

The “sympathy budget” covers Japan’s payment of the cost for U.S. military facilities on U.S. bases, ranging from the salaries of Japanese employees and utility bills to payments for training exercises and recreational facilities. A total of about 250 billion yen is expended each year from the “sympathy budget” for U.S. forces in Japan. It even includes the cost of relocating U.S. forces in Okinawa under the SACO (Special Action Committee on Okinawa) agreement and costs for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. The Status of the U.S. Forces in Japan Agreement provides that the U.S. forces are required to pay for the maintenance of their bases. It is unjustifiable, even in the light of the SOFA, for Japan to be forced to pay for these costs.

The U.S. forces stationed in Japan have a mission to spearhead any military action the United States will take whenever a conflict breaks out anywhere in the world. Japan’s payment for the “sympathy budget” means that Japan is financially supporting U.S. wars of intervention.

The increasing procurement of more frontline equipment by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and their recent activities anticipate overseas operations. The Defense Ministry in its budget outline for FY 2009 includes money for the purchase of bullet-proof boards for CH47 transport helicopters of the GSDF, the enhancement of engine functions to enable the GSDF to carry out activities under any circumstances, and small unmanned reconnaissance aircraft that the U.S. forces are flying in Afghanistan.

Ending the “sympathy budget” will make it possible to avoid the annual 220 billion yen cut in the growth of expenditures on social services.

The ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties and the opposition Democratic Party are trying to avoid discussing cuts in military expenditure because they are subservient to the United States and serving the interests of the business sector. Thus, they cannot find the revenues necessary for meeting the needs of the public.

As the only political party calling for the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the JCP will make every effort to have the military budget drastically cut.
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