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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 December 16 - 22  > Suga gov’t 2021 budget draft puts importance on military buildup over public need to overcome COVID-19 crisis
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2020 December 16 - 22 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Suga gov’t 2021 budget draft puts importance on military buildup over public need to overcome COVID-19 crisis

December 22, 2020

The Suga Cabinet on December 21 decided on the 2021 draft budget with general account expenditures amounting to a record-high of more than 106 trillion yen. This budget draft, however, does not sufficiently and fundamentally strengthen measures to address the ongoing pandemic situation while placing importance on the promotion of digitalization, a pillar of Prime Minister Suga’s policies, and on a military buildup.

The 2021 budget draft earmarks five trillion yen as a reserve fund under the pretext of enabling the government to swiftly implement emergency measures to tackle the pandemic situation. Amid the COVID-19 third wave, however, the draft plan provides insufficient funds to the pressing task of substantially strengthen the “test, trace, and protect” system. Regarding support for public health centers which play a key role in this system, the draft budget only seeks to set up a system to recruit qualified public health nurses who are currently unemployed. There is no measure to subsidize municipalities implementing their own PCR test programs.

Furthermore, the draft budget fails to include support measures such as financial aid to medical institutions facing financial difficulties due to a decrease in the number of patients and additional distribution of subsidies to struggling businesses and the self-employed. This shows that the Suga government has no proper policy to prevent the nation’s healthcare system from collapsing as well as to protect people’s lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Suga administration allocated 5.34 trillion yen for the military buildup, marking a record high in military spending for the seventh straight year. This military budget includes 1.7 billion yen in costs for constructing two new Aegis ships in place of the deployment of Aegis Ashore systems which the Cabinet approved on December 18. In addition, in line with the Cabinet approval, the budget contains funding to introduce military equipment with the ability to attack enemy bases, including developing standoff missiles by domestic manufacturers, increasing the range of surface-to-ground missiles of the Ground Self-Defense Force, and purchasing joint-strike missiles to be attached to F35A Stealth fighters. In addition, the government will spend tax money for the Henoko U.S. base project (84.6 billion yen) and the “sympathy budget” supporting stationing of the U.S. forces in Japan (201.7 billion yen).

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on December 21 at a press conference in the Diet building said, “The Suga government budget draft for 2021 is totally insufficient in terms of addressing the pandemic situation and reducing vulnerabilities in Japanese society.” He added that in the ordinary Diet session scheduled to open in January, the JCP will urge the government to drastically revise the budget plan.

Koike referred to a five-trillion-yen reserve fund allocated as emergency anti-coronavirus measures. Koike pointed out, “The second supplementary budget incorporated the reserve funds of 10 trillion yen for similar purposes. However, the government spent only three trillion yen mainly for the expansion of the ‘Go To’ campaigns.” He said that it is unacceptable for the government to jeopardize financial democracy by again earmarking a huge amount of tax money as a reserve fund, which will be used without Diet discussions, in the 2021 budget draft.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t should hurry to improve COVID-19-related measures before compiling 3rd supplementary budget [November 12, 2020]
> JCP Shiokawa calls for lowering 10-trillion-yen reserves in supplementary budget [June 4, 2020]

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