Let us talk and reshape politics to make this year mark the beginning of new ways to live and work
2019 New Year Message from the President
A Happy New Year to you all.
The kanji for the year 2018 was 災(sai), meaning “disaster.” The main reasons why this Chinese character was chosen were because there had been a string of natural disasters, such as the earthquakes hitting Hokkaido and northern Osaka, torrential rains and typhoons buffeting the country’s west, and record breaking heat waves. Above all, very ‘sai’, or disastrous, for us was the Abe cabinet exercising its tyranny of having the majority in the Diet, wasn’t it?
Also in the extraordinary Diet session in autumn, Prime Minister Abe proved to be a despot in ramming many controversial bills through, such as the bills on the Immigration Control Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Sewerage Service Act. They were such important changes to our society for the future, yet Abe ignored the opposition parties demanding more careful deliberations and brought them to a vote, saying outrageously that debates, if continued, would become endless.”
The Abe administration dismissed, as groundless, a well-reasoned argument made by Okinawa prefectural government, that the cost of a U.S. base relocation to Henoko would be over ten times that initially estimated. The national government started dumping soil and sand in the beautiful sea of Henoko, even though it had accepted de facto the extension of the deadline for return of the U.S. air station Futenma
With mounting anger against Abe’s power politics, the opposition-citizens cooperation gained momentum and the opposition parties seeking the restoration of constitutionalism in politics kept on working arm in arm in the Diet. These efforts contributed to preventing the initiation of the deliberation about constitutional revision in the Diet, despite Abe’s eagerness in ignoring his obligation to respect and uphold the Constitution. This experience encourages us to continue our struggle.
This year will see unified local elections in early spring and an Upper House election in early summer, which offer great opportunities to make our workplaces and lives better by altering politics.
“Talking about politics” as well as “Changing it” are fundamental rights for all of us to enjoy. Recent arguments about “maintaining political neutrality” raised against public sector workers are nothing more than an impediment to workers’ basic rights aimed at making them keep silent. With conviction, let us freely discuss politics at work as well as in the community so as to exercise our right to alter politics.
In the 2019 Spring Struggle, the following tasks will also be given priority. One is to reveal the extraordinary circumstances under which Japanese workers are made to work. Thereby, we seek to win a drastic wage increase which will make our lives better, and to eliminate all different forms of disparity. The other is to make efforts to reduce excessively long working hours. Thereby, we try to elevate people’s struggle to create a society where anyone can lead an ordinary life with an eight-hour working day into a nationwide effort. In order to achieve these targets, we have to go all out together with the members of Zenroren and the People’s Spring Struggle Joint Committee at both national and local levels.
In order to support private sector workers’ struggles, every local union will be encouraged to put forward written demands and conduct collective bargaining. These demands should include those of fellow non-regular workers in the public sector, such as securing their jobs and equal rights. They are as important as our own demands for establishing a uniform national minimum wage system and enacting local ordinances on public contracts as well as our campaigns against Abe’s work-style reform.
Also, by enhancing social security and improving policies and functions to redistribute income, such as regional administrative and financial support to residents and securing personnel in the workplace, we can correct the deepening of poverty spreading in the region and expansion of disparity. Let us promote a campaign in every union and workplace for a “better community and workplace,” by struggling to secure enough budget and personnel at work.