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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 2 - 8  > Abe’s National Strategic Special Zone will rip apart people’s lives
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2014 April 2 - 8 [POLITICS]

Abe’s National Strategic Special Zone will rip apart people’s lives

April 7, 2014
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

The Abe Cabinet designated six regions, including the Tokyo metropolitan area, as National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZ) which the prime minister claims lead to a “breakthrough toward drastic regulation reforms”. The government plans to form a scheme of reforms for each district and initiate the scheme this summer. PM Abe Shinzo, in his own words, is intending to create “the most business-friendly environment in the world” at local levels and to spread it across the nation. He seeks to eliminate rules and regulations which protect the safety and rights of the general public on the grounds that they hamper large corporations from making profits.

In the NSSZ, the government will relax or abolish regulations regarding labor, medical care, agriculture, and city planning in order to make it easier for large corporations to conduct business. The government will also provide tax breaks to corporations.

Abe’s special zones are totally different from the conventional special economic zone as they are designated using a top-down approach. The Council on NSSZ, whose chair is the prime minister, has the authorization to determine the zones.

Members of the council are pro-business advocates, such as executives of corporations and ex-Economy Minister Takenaka Heizo. Designation of local districts as NSSZs depends on whether municipal applications meet business circle’s demands for a favorable business investment climate.

It is said that the application by Fukuoka City was highly evaluated because the council members appreciated the city’s eagerness for drastic relaxations on labor regulations. On the other hand, regarding Tokyo’s application, the council, while praising its measures to invite multinationals to participate in preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, points to the weakness in labor deregulation and calls for “further efforts in implementing deregulation”.

Comparing deregulation measures by the NSSZ to a drill blade, PM Abe openly said, “No regulation can escape from my ‘drill’.” It is a merciless declaration to dig a big hole in safeguards on people’s lives for the sake of large corporations. It is unacceptable that the government abuses its power to ‘drill’ to tear apart people’s livelihoods and safety.
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