Comment on revisions to the Unemployment Insurance Law passed

25 April 2003

Tadayoshi KUSANO
General Secretary

  1. The Houses of Councillors approved this morning revisions to the Unemployment Insurance Law, raising the premium to 1.6 percent from 1.4 percent of employee pay and slashing benefits by an overwhelming majority supported by ruling parties. These revisions for the worse will cut benefits and have negative impacts on workers. It is not accepted that the Government and ruling parties has steamrolled revisions without sufficient deliberations, persisting to the enforcement on 1 May 2003.

  2. Rengo has recognised that the responsibility for the current critical situation of employment insurance financing lies with the Koizumi Government and its economic and fiscal mismanagement have caused severe employment situation. Therefore, Rengo has been working to block the passage of the government bill allowing cuts in benefits for the unemployed and for the continuation to employ aged workers. Rengo has made its best effort, in cooperation with Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and other opposition parties, to realise a drastic revision of the government bills and restructure the budget so as to establish an Employment Insurance Stability Fund (500 billion yen for two years).

  3. The DPJ has submit to the Diet a counterproposal based on Rengo's recommendations and opposed, together with other opposition parties, the revisions aimed at balancing the books by reducing the rate of unemployment benefits. Such revisions would only jeopardise trust of people in the unemployment insurance scheme as safety nets and general account budge should be used to avoid an increase in the premium and a decrease in benefits.

    However, the Government and ruling parties did not sincerely respond to opposition's questions and steamrolled the bill. In particular in the House of Councillors, the Government arranged the vote on 24 April, even though the Council's deliberations started on 22 April, which was a condition for the new Law to go into force on 1 May 2003. Such Diet management relying on force of numbers is not consistent with a principle of democracy.

  4. After the holidays, the Diet will have substantive deliberations on the Labour Standard and the Dispatch Workers Law. Rengo will continue or even strengthen its effort in realising revisions in revisions to these Laws in favour of workers in cooperation with opposition parties, including the DPJ.