A project of the government to open a faculty of veterinary science of Kake Gakuen School in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture, was taken initiative by the Advisory Council on National Strategic Special Zones, although Prime Minister Abe Shinzo reiterated that he had ‘not instructed on the plan’. The advisory council has ‘authority as if it were an independent mini-government led by Prime Minister’. The panel itself is tricky, judging from its organizational and institutional aspects.
NOT ONLY KAKE GAKUEN SCHOOL BUT ALSO OTHER PROJECTS VIOLATE CONSTITUTION
The ‘special zones’ include: the Special Zones for Structural Reforms of the Koizumi government, the Comprehensive Special Zones of the Kan government of the Democratic Party and the National Strategic Special Zones of the second-round Abe government. The former two devices had a structure in which local governments raised necessary projects to the state’s government, which was a bottom-up scheme.
Regulations Protect People
The political objective of the National Strategic Special Zones of the Abe administration is to ‘strengthen international industrial competitiveness and to build up bases for international economic activities’ and excluded is re-vitalization of local economies. The special zones are a laboratory of the so-called Abenomics economic policy in which successes in the zones might be trickled down to the rest of the country.
Premier Abe told in his speech given on February 28, 2013, to make the nation into one where business could enjoy the best conditions for its behaviors. In the World Economic Forum in Davos held in January, 2014, Premier said: ‘I will drill holes in the bedrocks of vested interests’ and ‘nobody can escape my drill without getting hurt’. He has encouraged a deregulation policy to this day.
The Abe government regards regulations as evil, but it is the very regulations that protect health and safety of people. The same can be true for labor issues, food safety and protection of natural environment. Regulations work as base rocks to let people survive.
Special Zones Designated Across Country
In the strategic special zone policy 46 reforms are undergone for deregulation and 242 projects are certified and implemented. Jeopardy prevails, not limiting to the scandal of Kake Gakuen School. One of the projects is to ‘use foreign workers for house-keeping’. The policy is promoted by Chairman of Pasona Group, Takenaka Heizo, in the name to support families of foreign residents in Japan. The idea is to employ cheap foreign laborers. That means deterioration of wage levels of Japanese workers engaged in house-keeping and welfare services. Niigata City has introduced new schemes in the agricultural sector: ‘deregulation of conditions for opening a farmer’s restaurant and employment of foreign workers in the agricultural entities’.
In the Tokyo metropolitan areas 25 deregulation-oriented reforms are designed and 80 projects are undergone as ‘a basis of international business innovation’. The eighty projects are: for Tokyo 65, for Kanagawa Prefecture 10, for Narita City 2 and for Chiba City 3. Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko, too, who advocates a Tokyo-residents-first policy, launches the International Financial City ? Tokyo (a Tokyo-version financial big-bang) project. Anxiety is felt in a possibility ? investors-and-entrepreneurs-first, instead of people.
Referendum is Necessary
Professor Emeritus Kobayashi Setsu, Keio University, says explicitly the Law on National Strategic Special Zones violates the Constitution. Article 95 of the Constitution stipulates that a special law cannot be enacted without the consent of the majority of voters of the local public entity concerned. A law applicable to the concerned municipality can be enacted or abolished by a joint signature of 1/50 of the eligible voters.
It is necessary for residents of hosting municipalities, including Imabari City, to demand enactment of a local law on referendum.
August 8, 2017