October 18, 2013
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on October 17 grilled Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in a Lower House plenary session over the issues of radioactive water leaks at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and the planned consumption tax hike, taking a confrontational stance toward the government.
Shii severely criticized PM Abe for repeatedly making irresponsible remarks claiming that the contaminated water is "perfectly contained" within the port adjacent to the crippled Fukushima plant. He demanded that the administration concentrate all human and material resources on solving the water leakage issue and not allow the restart of any of the suspended nuclear reactors in Japan.
Criticizing the profit-seeking stance of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima plant, Shii said, "TEPCO has already demonstrated its inability to deal with the nuclear crisis properly." He proposed that the government nationalize the utility and establish a new system in which the state takes full responsibility to bring the crisis under control.
The JCP chair also condemned the prime minister for announcing the increase in the consumption tax rate from next April as well as the intent to go ahead with additional large-scale public works projects and corporate tax cuts. "It is completely unjustifiable to take away eight trillion yen annually from ordinary people who are suffering declining incomes while generously giving tax breaks to large corporations which have enormous internal reserves amounting to 270 trillion yen," he stated.
In addition, the party head stressed the need to raise wages for workers so that Japan's economy can get out of the prolonged deflationary recession. Criticizing as an "empty theory" Abe's claim that the corporate tax reduction will lead to a rise in wages, Shii argued that the government should take the initiative in forcing big companies to use their internal reserves for wage hikes and to place contingent workers in regular, full-time positions.