A series of controversial bills are on the agenda waiting for Diet's approval in the House of Councilors which link a surge of the consumption tax rate with restraint of budgets for public services. The exact voting date is not fixed. Content as a whole of these bills, however, intentionally stresses people's individual responsibility and family roles. The bills should not be enacted.
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY PRECEDES GOVERNMENT'S DUTY
Late last May attacks began abruptly against recipients of benefit from Life Protection service. Hostile campaigns are elaborately prepared and are being staged with a purpose to justify budget reductions for public services.
People remember vividly and bitterly a policy package brought by the successive governments of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), especially the one led by Premier Koizumi Jun'ichiro. The LDP has carried out 'structural reforms with no exception of sanctuary' to reduce budgets of social services pursuant to the 'bold economic and financial guidelines'.
Thus the guidelines were fixed by the cabinet. If the Noda government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), passes these bills, procedures will be taken on the basis of the existing laws. Situation will get worse.
DPJ Government Fully Copies LDP
Three political parties, namely, DPJ, LDP and New Komeito, reached an agreement June 15 on the reform policy which connects public services with taxation; the three decided to compile promptly 'a draft bill to promote reforms in the social service system' to submit to the Diet and pass it during the current session together with the relevant taxation and public services bills.
Five days after the accord, June 20, the said draft bill was submitted jointly by the three to the House of Representatives to be approved June 26. The agreement made behind the closed door has two elements: (1) the basic ideas on reforms in the public service system and (2) an outline of the National Council for Reforms of Public Service System.
The bill stipulates in Article 2: under Item 1 that 'reforms will be made to establish a public service system by which people could live an independent life through a mutual help scheme of people, or among family and themselves, taking in account of an optimum combination of individual responsibility, mutual cooperation efforts and public aids'.
In other words the bill deliberately emphasizes self-responsibility and mutual help among people, limiting a scope of the state's duty.
This stance is advocated by the LDP's Policy Vision published last February. It is LDP that initiated the recent attacks against Life Protection beneficiaries. The Vision was finalized early June to be a draft bill for basic reform of public service system. The ruling DPJ has fully accepted the LDP's proposal on the ground that 'an agreement on the consumption tax rate surge is far more important. A policy on public services is secondary'.
Denial of Article 25 of Constitution
Article 2 continues: (reforms will be made) 'to restrain an increase of burdens to realize a sustainable public service system by introducing more rigorous eligibility norms and making management more efficient simultaneously, judging from a position of taxpayers and payers of social insurance premiums'. It clearly advocates a reduction of benefits.
The Annex of the bill states that 'the government will make a necessary inquiry into the public service system', enumerating provisions in order to reduce budgets of life protection services: to prevent illicit receipts, to set a benefit amount to an optimum level and to urge beneficiaries to find a job.
The bills violate Article 25 of Constitution which specifies the state's duty to assure the right of survival. For this reason the bills based on restraint and restriction of public services must be withdrawn or abolished.
August 7, 2012