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Boost domestic demand to restore nationfs economy: Shii

Two years have passed since the gLehman shockh. Japanese workers, small-business owners, farmers, and consumers in general are still undergoing hardships in contrast to the V-shaped recovery that large corporations have achieved. Japan has been in a continuous economic downturn, pointed out Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo.

During his Diet questioning on October 7 in regard to a policy speech Prime Minister Kan Naoto delivered on October 1, JCP Chair Shii argued that the only way to overcome the ongoing economic crisis is gto improve the household economy in order to boost domestic demandh and pointed out that large companies have amassed unprecedented surplus funds.

Prime Minister Kan Naoto in reply admitted to problems associated with the distribution of wealth, but refrained from promising to take any of the concrete measures Shii suggested.

Shii said, gSince the start of this year, 42,000 non-regular workers have lost their jobs. The need now is a fundamental change in the Worker Dispatch Law and the creation of a society in which everyone can be hired as a regular worker.h He demanded that the government prohibit the use of temporary workers in manufacturing factories and review the 26 special job categories which are currently exempted from regulations on the use of temporary workers.

Kan disagreed with the JCP, insisting as if he were a business leader that the JCPfs idea gwill only tighten the regulations and will narrow the choice of jobs for job-seekers.h

Shii also stressed the need to gprovide assistance, including subsidies to cover payrolls, to small- and midsized-enterprise owners, establish a system to ensure an across-the-board minimum wage, and immediately increase the minimum hourly wage to at least 1,000 yen.h

However, all Kan said was, gI will discuss this with persons concerned, including business leaders and management-labor representatives.h

The unemployment rate among young people aged between 15 and 24 hit a record-high of 11.1 percent in June. Shii pressed the government to instruct corporations to hire more young people and proposed that a three-party meeting be set up with representatives of government, universities, and corporations taking part in order to establish an appropriate recruiting rule so that students do not have to give up their studies to look for a job.

Kan said, gI will make efforts to help new graduates to find a job,h but did not say one word regarding Shiifs proposal.

Furthermore, Shii stated that it is essential to gimprove the social service programsh in order to restore domestic spending which accounts for 60 percent of the GDP. The previous LDP-Komei government had repeatedly conducted cutbacks in medical, nursing-care, and pension services and cut social service budgets by 220 billion yen each year. He argued that the healthcare insurance program, which requires elderly people aged 75 and over to shoulder heavy insurance premiums, should gpromptly be abolished and a new plan be implemented by building a national consensus.h

Kan, however, refused to respond to what Shii proposed and said, gRepeated reviews in the program will provoke anxiety and chaos,h the same excuse the previous government had used.

-       Akahata, October 8, 2010

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