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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 October 31 - November 6  > JCP and residents cooperation making positive changes in local assemblies
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2007 October 31 - November 6 [JCP]

JCP and residents cooperation making positive changes in local assemblies

October 29, 2007
“This city assembly has markedly changed after the recent Upper House election. Members of the assembly are sensitive to changes in the atmosphere and have begun to pay careful attention to residents’ demands,” said a Japanese Communist Party assembly member in Inabe City in Mie Prefecture.

After the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s devastating defeat in the July House of Councilors election, many local assemblies across the country have begun to heed residents’ demands that the Japanese Communist Party has long advocated.

In those assemblies, members of the LDP and Komei for the first time have come to support JCP proposals or residents’ petitions introduced by JCP members.

Mie Prefecture

The Mie Prefectural Assembly in October unanimously approved a petition for raising the age limit of infants entitled to free medical care that was submitted with 4,000 signatures by a local residents’ group in which the JCP is taking part.

The assembly also unanimously adopted two petitions calling on the prefectural government to build two branches of a special school supporting disabled children.

In the assembly’s Education Committee that examined the petition, JCP representative Hagiwara Ryokichi took the lead in having the committee conduct on-site investigations and hearings from parents of disabled children. It was the first time in the past several years that an assembly committee invited witnesses to its meetings.

In the prefectural assembly, the JCP had no seats in the previous term but gained two seats in its election in April.

City assemblies in Mie Prefecture are also undergoing some positive changes.

The Toba City Assembly in September unanimously approved a petition calling for reductions in national health insurance premiums.

In a recent meeting of the Inabe City Assembly, not only the JCP but another members’ group expressed their opposition to a city government’s plan to increase fees for use of a golf park designated as a facility for elderly people. In the end, seven assembly members voted against the plan. “This was the first time that so many members in this assembly voted against the city’s proposals,” said Kinugasa Tamiko, a JCP assembly member.

Miyazaki Prefecture

A major change has taken place in the Miyazaki Prefectural Assembly in which the JCP regained its seat in the April election.

The prefectural assembly on October 18 decided to cancel its plan for an assembly members’ overseas “inspection” trip. This was the first time for the assembly to scrap its trip plan after approving it.

In defiance of residents’ criticisms, 27 assembly members of the Liberal Democratic, Democratic, and Social Democratic parties made publicly-funded luxury trips abroad during FY 2002 and FY 2005, spending 25 million yen in total.

In September, the prefectural government proposed a 10 million yen plan for the assembly members’ “inspection” trips to Europe. Even the cities or facilities they would visit was unspecified, and this was nothing but a plan for pleasure trips.

JCP representative Maeyashiki Emi was the only assembly member who expressed opposition to the plan. “Amid the prefectural government’s severe financial conditions, the residents will not support this plan. To reduce the burdens of the residents, this plan must be scrapped,” she stated in an assembly meeting.

The assembly, however, passed the plan. Since then, assembly members planning to participate in the trips received a barrage of criticism from residents by phone calls and letters. The JCP conducted street campaigns and distributed flyers to make the trip plan known to the residents.

The assembly decision to scrap the trip plan convinced residents of the significance of the JCP seats.

Takamatsu City (Kagawa Pref.)

In September, a two-year old struggle jointly waged by local residents and the JCP eventually forced the Takamatsu City government to cancel its plan to close all municipal housing sites in Kawanoe Town. The city government claimed that the apartments are too old and it is no longer financially capable of running them.

In December 2005, the city government requested all residents of a housing complex to move to other municipal apartments in three years. Surprised by the sudden notification, 10 residents began consulting with the neighborhood association chair who was a JCP member.

Jointly with a local JCP branch and JCP city assembly members, they gave residents counseling. In January 2006, residents formed an association to deal with the question, collected 600 signatures, and conducted negotiations with the city government. In the city assembly, JCP representatives repeatedly criticized the city’s plan.

JCP Takamatsu City Assembly member Okada Manami said, “We succeeded because we quickly started the residents’ movement by forming the association. This movement reminded me of how powerful residents united are.”
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