The Japanese Communist Party hopes to thwart Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reform initiatives, saying they favor big corporations and would destroy small companies and erode job security, JCP leader Kazuo Shii said.
“Koizumi’s reforms have created a situation in which the foundation for people to live as human beings is being destroyed,” Shii, JCP Executive Committee chairman, said in an interview on the party’s platform for the July 11 House of Councilors poll, for which the party has low expectations.
“Take the issue of employment, for example. The prime minister says employment has improved. But the fact is that there is a trend toward reducing full-time workers” and replacing them with part-time and temporary employees, Shii said.
The number of full-time workers has dropped by 4 million and those employed on a temporary basis has increased by 3.7 million over the past five years, he said. The annual income of salaried workers has dwindled for six consecutive years, with an average worker earning 680,000 yen less than six years ago, he added.
Shii said that although the number of corporate bankruptcies has dropped in recent months and some large-scale manufacturers have shown signs of recovery, more than 1,000 companies go under every month.
Many small firms are suffering credit crunches because banks are under heavy pressure to eliminate bad loans, while large companies are forcing subcontractors to cut their costs, he said.
“Big companies are profiting at the cost to employment and smaller firms, which are the two pillars of the economy,” Shii said, noting an economic recovery based on this behavior won’t last. “To put a sound and sustainable recovery in motion, we definitely need policies to boost stable employment and support small and medium-size firms.”
The JCP wants companies to be required to give equal treatment to temporary and full-time staff, to abolish unpaid overtime and to allow workers to take their annual paid holidays. In this way, Shii believes Japan can add 3.1 million jobs.
The JCP also hopes to push the government to improve its financial policy to ensure that banks continue to lend to small firms and to legally compel big companies to deal fairly with subcontractors.
On pension reform, the JCP is demanding that the government provide people with a “minimum security pension” worth 50,000 yen a month.
The party is against increasing the consumption tax to raise pension funds. It wants to see the government cut back on public works projects, curtail defense spending and generally stop wasting public money, Shii said, noting the nation’s public works outlays are far greater than social security spending.
Large corporations must meanwhile bear a greater part of the country’s social security expenses through higher corporate taxes, Shii said, pointing out that the current corporate tax and social security payment shares are equivalent to 12 percent of the national income — compared with 24 percent in France, 18 percent in Germany and 16 percent in Britain.
The JCP chief also wants the government to immediately withdraw the Self-Defense Forces troops from Iraq in light of the war-renouncing Constitution and also because he reckons the Iraqis should be in charge of rebuilding their own country.
“In terms of the Constitution, (the SDF) cannot participate in a multinational force that involves the use of force,” Shii said.
The JCP currently holds 20 seats in the House of Councilors and nine in the House of Representatives.
Fifteen of the 20 Upper House seats are up for grabs in the upcoming election, but the party’s target is to win 12, five proportional representation seats and seven constituency seats, Shii said.