Government-Labor Meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi

RENGO Demand: No Downsizing/Eliminating Fixed-Rate Tax Cuts

22 December 2004
On December 14, RENGO held a Government-Labor Meeting at the Prime Minister's official residence where RENGO President Sasamori, Acting President Hitomi, and General Secretary Kusano met with Prime Minister Koizumi and Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Otsuji. There, RENGO delivered RENGO's demands on its urgent major policy issues and budget compilation. RENGO especially appealed on the issue of downsizing and/or eliminating fixed-rate tax cuts by saying "it will threaten economic recovery and help expand disparities among workers. We are dead set against it." Prime Minister Koizumi stated that "the issue of fixed-rate tax reductions has now entered the final stages. We will consider the economic conditions when making our decision."

At the Government-Labor Meeting, RENGO mainly demanded for the following five items regarding urgent issues and for budget compilation.
  1. We are dead set against the downsizing and/or elimination of fixed-rate tax cuts as it will jeopardize economic recovery and further widen disparities among workers.
  2. When compiling the budget, the government should focus on measures that deal with natural disasters, employment, and regional, small-and-mid-sized, and local businesses.
  3. Politics needs to commit itself more responsibly and explicitly to tax and social security system revision to come to a conclusion and implement that by March 2008. Related ministries and agencies are making proposals on each issue individually, but we need to revise the tax and social security systems in an integrated manner and politics should take the lead.
  4. When responding to such things as market testings we need to have sufficient discussion between related parties in labor and management and properly listen to opinions.
  5. The majority of citizens are against the government's decision to extend the dispatch term of the Self Defense Forces in Iraq. RENGO also declares its opposition against it.
Furthermore, RENGO expressed its stance on public service system reform saying that "in Korea there is a movement that would grant public servants the right to conclude agreements. When that happens, Japan will be the only country among the OECD members which does not allow basic labor rights for public servants. We think labor and management need to discuss this issue, including such international circumstances, in depth." RENGO also maintained that "the pressing matter is how politics will handle the polarization of society that is occurring now."

Prime Minister Koizumi responded to the issues as follows:
  1. The issue of fixed-rate tax reductions has now entered the final stages. We will consider the economic conditions when making our decision.
  2. On the matter of natural disasters, we are considering the proper measures to take. Many people have been volunteering their support and it appears that people are making use of their experience with the Hanshin Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake.
  3. We have received a report on the next fiscal year budget that states "we will be able to secure tax revenues that surpass our original estimations and there are surplus funds so we will be able to forgo issuing additional national bonds." We hope we can submit a budget plan which includes job measures at the opening session of the Diet.
  4. Regarding regional problems, we feel that the revitalization of regional economies has seen fair progress as we have introduced measures such as the special zone system. For instance, when Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany paid an official visit to Japan, the topic of German-Japanese sister cities was raised. Chancellor mentioned that the existence of 40 sister cities between Japan and Germany has lead to heavy consumption of German wine in Japan. Next year Japan will host the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, we have numerous sister cities all over the world and hope that mutual exchange among our sister cities will lead to a revitalization of our local economies.
  5. Speaking about our social security system, Prime Minister Koizumi said "as reported by President Sasamori, it seems that labor and management have taken the lead in (the revision of) the social security system. Political parties should take this seriously and there is a need for discussions between ruling and opposition parties. The Democratic Party of Japan has also called for an increase in the consumption tax rate as well as for unification of the system and I feel like we may have found a common ground of understanding. It is also possible to proceed with the unification of the system in stages. Whichever the case, we should continue to consider a social security system for our citizens."
So saying, Prime Minister Koizumi concluded his remarks by saying that "we need to develop a system that rewards those who put in effort but at the same time we recognize that the question is how to save those who are left behind."

RENGO gave a thank you address for the Prime Minister's attendance at the ICFTU World Congress in Miyazaki from December 5th to the 10th and for the government-held reception. RENGO also reported that the World Congress was carried out successfully and received high praise from its participants including the guests of honor. Prime Minister Koizumi stated that "I am pleased that the World Congress was a success."