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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 September 17 - 23  > JCP position on LDP presidential election and general election: Shii on NHK Sunday Debate
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2008 September 17 - 23 [POLITICS]

JCP position on LDP presidential election and general election: Shii on NHK Sunday Debate

September 22, 2008
Shii Kazuo, Japanese Communist Party chair, took part in a political discussion with other opposition party representatives on an NHK “Sunday discussion” program aired on September 21. He clarified the JCP position concerning the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election and dissolution of the House of Representatives for a general election.

Candidates for LDP presidency are not addressing the issue of people’s hardships

Asked to comment on the LDP strategy to dissolve the House of Representatives in the upcoming Extraordinary Session of the Diet for a general election, Shii answered:

Candidates for the LDP presidency in their campaigns are not discussing what should be done to help solve the hardships and concerns that people have.

For example, the number of “working poor” are increasing dramatically. About half of young workers are treated as throwaway labor. As temporary workers, independent contractors, or fixed-term employees, they are in very insecure positions. The question now is how to solve their difficulties and how to secure stable jobs for them.

The newly introduced health insurance system has infuriated the public because it discriminates against the elderly 75 years and over.

On October 15, the collection of the national health insurance premiums by check off will begin for more than six million people aged 75 and over as well as people aged between 65 and 74. A total of 15 million people will be affected by this method of collection. This is a serious problem, but none of the LDP presidency candidates is addressing it.

Aso Taro, one of the five candidates, said today that he will “drastically” review the health insurance system for the elderly without giving any concrete proposals. However, now that his statement reflects the fact that the LDP are forced to acknowledge the system’s failure, we must push for its abolition.

As regards the issue of tainted foreign rice being sold in Japan, not only the Agriculture Ministry, which left its distribution uncontrolled, but the government policy of opening the Japanese market to foreign rice is a problem along with the policy of easing regulation in the rice market. This needs to be addressed.

Far-reaching changes in economic policy should put emphasis on expanding domestic demand and increasing household spending instead of relying on exports

Asked whether Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Aso Taro’s policy is one of moving away from the present “structural reform” policy or not, Shii said as follows:

Aso says that he will review the Koizumi ‘structural reform’ policy, but he has not clarified his ideas regarding the problematic newly introduced health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over, or deregulation of the job market. He has so far put forward only proposals for minor changes.

The major problem with the Japanese economy is that the government has placed emphasis on supporting large exporters in making as large profits as possible under the name of “structural reform”. As a result, the Japanese economy structurally relies heavily on “foreign demand” while ignoring the effort to boost domestic demand and the household economy, making the nation’s economy vulnerable as a whole. It will be prone to shocks from outside of the country. The Japanese economy will never improve unless the present fundamental structure is changed.

I mentioned the problem of the working poor. In order to decrease the working poor population, it is important to strengthen regulations on the use of contingent workers and to create full-time positions.

Another problem is the present policy of cutting back social services. The government has cut the annual growth of expenditures on social services by 220 billion yen. It is necessary to change this policy and improve social services.

If the Japanese economy is to improve, the need is to drastically change policy to focus on the effort to secure jobs and improve social services, which calls for government support to be redirected to supporting the well-being of the public instead of helping big business make larger profits.

Financial problem – stop wasteful use of tax money and have large corporations make appropriate contributions

In answer to a question about the source of revenues for stimulating the economy, Shii stated as follows:

It is a matter of course that the government should allocate enough tax money to improve social programs and living standards. For instance, the government should stop cutting the growth of expenditures on social services by 220 billion yen each year, change its policy to one of increasing expenditures for building reliable healthcare, nursing care, and pensions.

When it comes to discussing how to ensure the source of revenues for funding programs, many argue that the consumption tax revenue should be used. The consumption tax is a “welfare-destroying regressive tax” that forces lower income earners to shoulder heavier burdens. Therefore, using the consumption tax as a fund to build better social services is the worst idea possible.

We are demanding that above anything else, the wasteful use of tax money be ended. Specifically, the five trillion yen expended annually on military buildup can be drastically cut. The “sympathy budget” that gives away 250 billion yen for the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan should be abolished. We also believe that the government subsidies for political parties amounting to 32 billion yen each year be terminated. That amount of tax money can be used to improve social programs for the disabled.

Secondly, the extraordinary tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy must be ended. Major corporations are earning 1.7 times more than during the heyday of the economic bubble. But the tax rates on them have not changed at all since the government gave them generous tax breaks. Toyota has 2.2 times increased profits, but the amount of tax on the company has decreased by 20 percent.

This regressive taxation policy must be corrected. Since major corporations are making record profits, we should force them to pay according to their ability to pay.

LDP and DPJ have almost no differences

Concerning the possible merger between the DPJ and the People’s New Party, Shii said, “I am not going to comment on the matter since this is an internal issue.” That said, he made the following comment about the electoral cooperation between parties.

We have decided to reduce the number of candidates in House of Representatives single-seat constituencies in accordance with out capability.

It seems to be fashionable to talk about a choice, the LDP or the DPJ, as a government party. However, we must note that all the present problems that the people want solved derive from two political policy choices. One is the policy that gives large corporations undue benefits, and the other is Japan’s subordination to the United States based on the Japan-U.S Security Treaty. I see no significant difference between the LDP and the DPJ as to how they are dealing with these two political policy choices. So, there is no room for the JCP to cooperate with the DPJ in government.

However, if the JCP makes a great electoral advance, we will make positive proposals to meet the needs of the public. In this context, the JCP will cooperate with them on an issue-by-issue basis. In fact, four opposition parties, including the JCP, in the House of Councilors previously jointly proposed a bill to abolish the health insurance system that discriminates against the elderly and got it approved. We could cooperate with them, for example, in order to completely resolve this particular issue. Another area of possible cooperation will be the effort to get the Worker Dispatch Law revised. I think that various forms of cooperation will be possible, and that we are willing to cooperate on a case-by-case basis that will help to move government policies in a more democratic direction.

There can be no JCP cooperation with DPJ in forming coalition government

Kageyama Hideo of NHK said, “The House of Representatives election outcome may result in the JCP getting a casting vote.” He asked, “What will be the JCP attitude in the event of a final vote in appointing the next prime minister?” Shii answered as follows:

As I said earlier, it is clear that no condition exists for the JCP to cooperate with the DPJ in forming a government. Things concerning what to do about the appointment of the prime minister should be discussed at a later time when the situation requires it. All I can say clearly at this moment is that the JCP always promotes policies that are in the interests of the general public.

JCP in Extraordinary Session of the Diet will analyze true cause of threats over living conditions and peace

In closing, Shii explained the JCP stance regarding the upcoming Extraordinary Session of the Diet as follows:

The issue of tainted foreign rice, which is a matter of public concern, can be traced back to the policies of deregulation and liberalization of rice imports under the “reform” policies of the Koizumi government. We want to bring to light the underlying cause.

We will also take up the question of the “working poor” as it is also a product of the “structural reform” that has weakened labor laws. Through our discussion, we want to bring the causes of these problems to light.

The health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over also can be traced back to the business circles’ call for cutbacks in social services. We will discuss the source of these problems.

And above all things, we will argue against Japan’s continued deployment of troops abroad under U.S. orders, in violation of the Japanese Constitution. The government’s fundamental subordination to the United States must be called into question.
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