RENGO Leaders Met with PM Koizumi

Issues on G8 Summit and Priority Policies

31 May 2004
On May 21 RENGO President Sasamori, General Secretary Kusano, and Department of International Affairs Executive Director Nakajima visited the Office of the Prime Minister to make an overture to Prime Minister Koizumi regarding the G8 Summit and RENGO priority policies. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda, and Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Sakaguchi were among participants representing the government. Regarding such issues as radical reform of the pension system, participants confirmed that they would establish a "forum for discussion including representatives from labor and management" for a reexamination of the entire social security system in the near future.

At the opening of the meeting, RENGO President Sasamori made requests for the upcoming G8 Summit 2004, which is scheduled to be held on Sea Island located in the state of Georgia in the United States. Based on the discussions held at the Plenary Session of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) for the OECD and the succeeding consultation with the OECD Ministerial Council which were both held previously in Paris, Sasamori pushed the government to take the requested matters outlined in the OECD-TUAC trade union's summary of the issues sincerely and discuss them. Expectations that this Sea Island Summit will be different from previous G8 Summits are running particularly high due in part to President Bush's intention for the discussions to focus on peace and security issues. In the midst of such speculation, Sasamori requested the government to discuss issues that aim to: [1] fortify the functionality of the United Nations so that problems might be resolved through cooperation and dialogue by multilateralism, [2] proceed with discussions that emphasize compliance with OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on the ever increasing importance of multinational corporations amidst globalization, and especially the issue of corporate social responsibility.

In response to this, Prime Minister Koizumi replied that he understood RENGO’s position and would examine and handle RENGO’s requests.

Next, RENGO requested that the government do it’s very best to realize RENGO's three priorities which include the "creation of high quality jobs and the revitalization of small-and-medium sized enterprises and local economies" and "legislation of equal treatment for part-time workers and others." Within RENGO’s priorities are assertions that despite improvement in business performance limited mainly to some of the major enterprises, there still is no visible influence on the small-and-medium sized enterprises or local economy, and that the critical period for measures and policies designed to boost the economy still lie ahead. Furthermore, although the unemployment rate shrank to less than 5%, the number of atypical workers drastically increased due to diversification of the types of work; real employment conditions are still severe. RENGO also emphasized that if this trend should continue, the situation will have grave consequences for Japan’s competitive edge. Also, it is necessary to legislate equal treatment when bringing about real work-sharing.

In addition, on the urgent priority issue of pension problems, RENGO strongly pushed to establish a "forum for discussion with representatives from labor and management," that was reached by consensus at the last government/labor meeting, for an entire reexamination starting with the pension system and extending to the social security system during the current Diet session.

Touching on this, Prime Minister Koizumi said that establishing such a forum with labor and management was a "promise" that he would surely realize in the near future. Furthermore, he said that integration of the pension system is not a task that can be easily realized in one or two years, but that the problem is so deeply rooted that should reform not succeed this time, the system will be corrupted. He also suggested that the problem is comprehensive and interlocked with other issues such as long-term care, medical care, and even taxes including consumption tax. Therefore, it is necessary to thoroughly elaborate on the content of these issues at any place of discussion.

RENGO and the government agreed that problems should be solved through discussion based on the fact that the proposed government/labor discussions will mark a start for a system of public service.