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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 September 10 - 16  > Change policy to put the people first – Shii on TV show
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2008 September 10 - 16 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Change policy to put the people first – Shii on TV show

September 15, 2008
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on September 14 appeared on the Fuji TV network’s political debate program “Hodo 2001” along with other opposition party leaders and gave his views on the ongoing Liberal Democratic Party presidential election and the upcoming general election.

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on September 14 appeared on the Fuji TV network’s political debate program “Hodo 2001” along with other opposition party leaders and gave his views on the ongoing Liberal Democratic Party presidential election and the upcoming general election.

A banner reading “The LDP presidential election does not address the public needs” was hanging behind Shii. This was how Shii described the LDP presidential contest in response to the request by the TV station to express his opinion in a single phrase. With this banner in the background, Shii began his argument as follows:

LDP presidential race has no specifics about how to overcome people’s hardships

Shii: Commenting on the ongoing LDP presidential election, I said, “It doesn’t sincerely address the public needs.” I said so because I do not think they are discussing in earnest how to overcome people’s hardships.

For example, the number of “working poor” is increasing. One in every two young people is afflicted with abusive treatment as “disposable” labor, working as temporary workers, independent contractors, and fixed-term employees. Revision to the Worker Dispatch Law is a major challenge for both the ruling and opposition parties. Although this is expected to be one of the main issues in the coming general election, no candidate in the LDP presidential election touches on this issue.

As for the elderly, they are troubled by the new “healthcare insurance system that excludes the elderly aged 75 and over”. The third collection of the premiums of this health insurance from their pension benefits took place on August 15. People were enraged by this automatic deduction “on the anniversary of the end of the Pacific War.” Further premiums will be deducted on October 15 from pension benefits of another three million people, who turn 75 years old. Then, another three million people aged between 65 and 75 will be forced to pay national health insurance premiums from their pension benefits. Therefore, insurance premiums will be deducted from the pension benefits of an additional six million people, bringing the total number to 14 million. Such a blow or “October 15 Shock” is a serious attack on the people, but none of LDP presidential candidates are discussing this issue.

It’s amazing lack of discussion on this point. It’s necessary to have concrete discussions regarding how to address the people’s hardships.

The issue is the content of politics that needs to be changed

Citing an opinion poll that asked which of the two politicians, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Aso Taro or Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa Ichiro, should be the next prime minister, the debate moved on to the next theme, who should be the next prime minister, Aso or Ozawa.

Commenting on the lower rating for Ozawa, DPJ Acting President Kan Naoto said, “Unlike a presidential election, we are evaluated as a team.”

Asked if the JCP will support Ozawa as prime minister in the parliamentary vote in the special Diet session to be held after the general election, Shii said as follows:

Shii: The JCP and the DPJ have differences over the responsibilities of political power. There is no way for the JCP and the DPJ to cooperate in forming a government because our two parties have fundamental differences on various issues, including the consumption tax and the Japanese Constitution.

Of course, as all opposition parties agree on the need to abolish ‘the harsh health insurance system for the elderly aged 75 and over’, the JCP will place importance on cooperation on such issues.

The opinion poll, mentioned before, about the choice between Aso and Ozawa as next prime minister is one point. But I think that it is necessary to choose a prime minister by carefully assessing the candidates’ views as to how to change the direction of government policy.

I said that the “working poor” and the “health insurance for the elderly aged 75 and over” are typical of the present hardships that many people are experiencing. It is not difficult to identify the cause of these hardships. The business sector is primarily to blame for them.

Why are so many people forced to work as temporary workers? In 1995, the Japan Economic Federation (predecessor of the Japan Business Federation, Nippon Keidanren) announced a new management policy entitled “Japanese Management in the New Era.” It called for workers to be divided into three categories. This led to the creation of ‘disposable’ workers. This was the beginning of the present problem.

Why was such a discriminatory medical system for the elderly introduced? The reason is that in 2002 the ‘reform policy’ (adopted by the Koizumi Cabinet) set the goal of cutting 220 billion yen in the growth of the social welfare budget (300 billion yen in cuts for the first year).

This policy was launched by Okuda Akira, then Keidanren chairman, at the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy established under the Cabinet Office.

The main issue should be to establish a political stance capable of fighting against business circles’ arrogance and the pro-U.S. policy and to change Japan into a nation that puts people first.

‘Grand coalition’ initiative revealed that Japan will not be better just by changing ruling coalition without changing the content of politics

The last discussion was about the possibility of changing the party in power in the next House of Representatives general election. DPJ representative Kan, while expressing the idea that the opposition parties will win a majority of the House of Representatives seats, went on to say, “If the LDP is unable to win the majority, some LDP politicians may want to join forces with the DPJ.” In response to Kan’s remark showing his hope to see “rebels” from the LDP, Shii said as follows:

Shii: In the VTR segment shown earlier, people said, “The LDP is finished, but the DPJ isn’t good either.” Recently I have frequently heard such sentiments.

Last year, there were moves to establish a “grand coalition.” Mr. Ozawa and Mr. Fukuda agreed to set up a coalition government in which Mr. Fukuda would be prime minister and Mr. Ozawa vice prime minister. This has an important bearing on politics. I think citizens have started to feel that there is little difference between the two parties.

I do not think that a change of a party in power without changing policies will promise a healthy future for Japan. The point is we need to move away from the present government policies that exclusively serve the interests of business circles and the U.S. to establish policies that really serve the interests of the general public.
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