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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 December 22 - 2022 January 4  > Kishida gov’t 2022 budget draft will adversely affect general public
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2021 December 22 - 2022 January 4 [POLITICS]

Kishida gov’t 2022 budget draft will adversely affect general public

December 25, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on December 24 approved the 2022 draft budget with general account expenditures amounting to a record-high of 107.6 trillion yen. The draft budget, however, failed to allocate sufficient funds for measures to support people’s livelihoods and support medical institutions that play a role in the fight against COVID-19. It also slashed financial resources needed to cover the “natural increases” associated with Japan’s aging society in social welfare spending. On the other hand, the draft budget includes a record-breaking military budget of 5.4 trillion yen. This showcases the current administration’s disregard of the public welfare.

The draft budget set aside five trillion yen as a reserve fund mainly for countermeasures against the pandemic, but does not include financial support for struggling individuals and small business owners. The government should review the budget and improve the cash assistance program for people in need and the subsidy programs for smaller business owners to cover their rent payments and costs associated with sustaining their businesses.

The government policy on social welfare spending is insufficient to support hospitals and public healthcare centers that deal with COVID-19 patients, and turns its back on the public demand for an improvement in social welfare services. The Kishida government plans to cut the state remuneration paid to healthcare institutions’ services. It also seeks to promote the planned reduction in the number of hospital beds overall. This will exacerbate the vulnerability of Japan’s healthcare system exposed under the pandemic situation. On top of this, the government will implement a measure to double the out-of-pocket medical expenses for the elderly aged 75 and over in October 2022 as planned.

The defense budget has increased for 10 consecutive years, hitting an all-time high this year. This represents the Kishida government’s dangerous attempt to turn Japan into a war-fighting nation which is linked to PM Kishida’s enthusiasm to impose a revision of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. The Kishida administration, with its clear stance towards discussions on “Japan’s possession of the capability to attack enemy bases” which is contrary to successive governments’ constitutional interpretation, intends to promote a military buildup by such means as developing cruise missiles and increasing the number of combat aircraft. A huge military buildup that will increase military tensions in Asia is unacceptable.

Amid the pandemic, more and more countries have decided to lower the rate of the value-added tax, the so-called consumption tax in Japan. In contrast, the Kishida government shows no sign of responding to the public demand to have the consumption tax rate lowered. It is expected that consumption tax revenues will become a dominant factor in government income for three years straight as a result of repeated increases in the tax rate under the Abe government. The Kishida government plans to provide tax breaks to large corporations under the name of promoting digital transformation, and shows its unwillingness to revise preferential tax rates for financial instruments which benefit the super rich. The Kishida government is in essence worsening inequality through regressive taxation.

With the dangers associated with the Kishida government’s budget draft becoming clearer, the urgent need is to strengthen public opinion and social movements calling for changing the budget draft to a people-oriented one.
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