Shii questions PM Noda on reconstruction, NPPs, and US Futenma MCAS

September 16, 2011

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on September 15 used his interpellation time in the House of Representatives plenary session to question the basic policies of the new Cabinet and call for people-oriented measures to be implemented. Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s reply exposed his Cabinet’s intent to work to benefit big corporations and the United States.

Taking up the issue of reconstruction of areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the following tsunami, Shii emphasized the government’s responsibility to the needed funds to affected people in order to help restart their lives and businesses.

Citing a private think-tank survey showing that 2,498 out of 5,004 companies whose headquarters are located in the three earthquake-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, are still unable to operate, Shii warned, “If such a situation continues, there comes a real danger of massive bankruptcies and increased unemployment. It would destroy the foundation needed for reconstructing the local communities.”

The JCP chair also urged the government to help solve the “dual loan” problem that is preventing local corporations, farmers, and fishermen from restarting their businesses. The government proposed the setting up of a prefectural level “industry rehabilitation organization” to purchase the debts of affected corporations and individuals with public funds. However, the organization has not yet been established, Shii pointed out.

He blamed the government for narrowing the scope of the rescue scheme plan to companies or individuals having less difficulty in restarting their businesses. To swiftly set up the debt purchasing mechanism, Shii insisted that the government stop beating down the price of bonds owned by local financial institutions. The government should guarantee sufficient money for the organization to buy the bonds, Shii added.

Regarding funds for reconstruction, Shii exposed the government’s extraordinary tax hike plan that will place burdens on wage-earners and self-employed people and not on big corporations. He questioned whether the government has the intention to ask the business community to bear an additional burden, presenting alternatives, including canceling the extension of the corporate tax cut and the preferential taxation on securities transactions as well as reducing the NPP promotion budget. Shii suggested that the government issue national bonds for reconstruction and request big corporations to purchase the bonds utilizing their massive internal reserves that amount to an astonishing 257 trillion yen.

PM Noda replied that he has no intention to ask big businesses to purchase the government bonds.

Taking up the issue of NPPs, Shii urged the Noda Cabinet to seriously reflect on the nuclear “safety myth” propagated by successive governments, which finally resulted in the severe accident. The move to reboot NPPs now suspended for regular inspections is “outrageous,” he asserted, given that the causes of the accident are still under investigation and that the manipulation of public opinion by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which was supposed to be a nuclear watchdog, was revealed.

The prime minister admitted that the manipulation of public opinion should not be allowed, but expressed his intention to proceed with restarting the NPP operations “based on general assessments at the political level.”

On the U.S. military base relocation issue in Okinawa, Shii asked if the government thinks it is actually possible to move the Futenma Air Station to Henoko against Okinawan people’s will. Shii called on the government to negotiate with the United States for the unconditional removal of the base.

Noda persisted in going ahead with building a new base as an alternative to the Futenma base, saying that he would “sincerely explain the relocation plan to the Okinawan people based on the Japan-U.S. agreement”

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