Japanese Elections: Statement by Zenroren’ Secretary General Kurosawa Koichi

Japanese Elections: Statement by Zenroren’ Secretary General Kurosawa Koichi

“Let us go to the polls to change politics to end neoliberal policies”.

On the occasion of the dissolution of the House of Representatives

Kurosawa Koichi
Secretary General
the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s Cabinet dissolved the House of Representatives on October 14, just 10 days after it was inaugurated. He delivered a policy speech and responded to questions from party representatives at the plenary sessions of both houses of the Diet but rejected the call of opposition parties and people for holding deliberations at the Budget Committee meetings of both houses. He instead dissolved the House of Representatives for a general election. This act only represents autocracy focusing driven by party politics. The Kishida Cabinet shows no signs of reflecting on the government’s missteps in its response to COVID-19 and on political corruptions involving money. It even refuses to verify or reinvestigate the scandals. In the upcoming general election, we must express our rejection of the Kishida-led government of the Liberal Democratic and Komeito parties, which is no different from the predecessor Abe Shinzo and Suga Yoshihide governments.

Achieving politics that safeguards people’s lives should be a major issue in the general election. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) has made every effort to save people’s lives amid the spread of the coronavirus. We have called for an increase in the number of doctors and nurses and a halt to the ongoing consolidation and elimination of municipal and public hospitals, which are playing the key roles in responding to contagious diseases, while demanding that the public health centers be strengthened. We have organized signature drive and publicity campaigns as well as petitions to local governments, from workplaces and local communities. If we are to save people’s lives, it is necessary to topple the government of the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, which has carried out neoliberal policies to cut social security services and healthcare expenditure.

A substantial increase in the minimum wage and the establishment of a uniform national minimum wage system are needed to support people’s livelihoods and the economy in general, which are seriously affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We must remove the Liberal Democratic and Komeito parties from power, as they give priority to serving the interests of the financial sector and the major corporations.

The general election is in the offing. In the single-seat constituencies, the faceoff between the ruling Liberal Democratic and Kimeito parties and the opposition parties that defend constitutionalism is what the electoral battle is about. The Constitutional Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and Reiwa Shinsengumi have agreed to the common policy agenda proposed by the Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism. The “common policy agenda” is the foundation on which candidates are running for the united front of opposition parties and the citizens’ movement across the country. The “common policy agenda” reflects demands put forward by Zenroren in its movement: the repeal of the security legislation; Japan’s participation in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; the cancellation of the construction of a new US military base at the Henoko district of Nago City in Okinawa; an end to cutbacks on healthcare expenditure; improvement in the medical and public health systems; an increase in the minimum wage; a cut in the consumption tax rate; a greater share of the tax burden to be shouldered by the wealthy; an end to nuclear and coal-fueled power generation; gender equality, etc.

Zenroren, together with federations and local organizations, have called on opposition parties and their prospective candidates to formulate their policies that include the workers’ demands and to join forces in the upcoming House of Representatives election to achieve politics that can realize the pressing needs of the workers. A victory leading opposition parties to establish a coalition government will pave the way for changing politics to implement the “common policy agenda.” The four opposition parties that share the “common policy agenda” are calling for raising the minimum wage to 1,500 yen in their respective election promises. Zenroren is encouraging the unions to organize workplace discussions about connections between their demands and politics while intensifying the action calling for saving the lives as part of the campaign to drive people to the polls. We also do our utmost everywhere across the country to secure change of government by the joint struggle of the citizens’ movement and opposition parties.