Statement: Pension reform package rammed though the House of Councillors
05 June 2004
- The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito unilaterally opened the plenary session of the House of Councillors early Saturday morning, in order to get a set of pension reform bills “for worse” rammed through the House. The Vice President of the House declared the session adjourned for the day and, shortly after the Vice President left the floor, the President, to whom the non-confidence motion had been put to vote, took his seat and declared the Vice President’s earlier declaration invalid. The steamrolling happened in such an unprecedented situation. Not only the bills themselves but also the way they were enacted were unacceptable in the light of the principle of parliamentary democracy.
- The pension reform package “for the worse” would see premiums raised and benefit decreased in next 14 years. Distrust of the pension system, as well as of politics, has reached the peak by revelations that seven Cabinet ministers and a number of Diet members had failed to either pay their mandatory pension premiums or join the National Pension Plan in the past. Furthermore, it was revealed that promises made by the government that are a basis of the system, such as a fixed upper limit of premiums and a guaranteed replacement rate, were all humbug.
- The steamrolling at both the Committee and the plenary session of the House was an attempt whereby the ruling coalition completely ignored angry voices of peoples by forces of numbers. The Diet in fret is a symbol of the bills that did not comply with peoples’ expectation.
- Rengo has been working on drastic reform of the pension system with proposing a tax-based basic pension plan as a basis of the reform. It has developed unprecedented workplace- and community-based campaigns for its counterproposals to be realised and for the government-sponsored bills to be withdrawn. Peoples do not want a mere tinkering of numbers, but a pension system that is reliable and trustworthy over the future. The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito must sincerely listen to such concerns, normalise the Diet session and indicate a path toward genuine reforms understandable to peoples.
Rengo will look closely into the responsibility of the ruling parties and the government, in cooperation with the Democratic Party of Japan. Rengo is determined to extend its campaign and make every possible effort to win the forthcoming election of the House of Councillors.