Comment on the opening of the 156th Diet session

20 January 2003

Tadayoshi KUSANO
General Secretary

  1. The Diet convened its 156th regular session today. The session will deliberate a supplementary spending package for fiscal 2002 and then the government budget for fiscal 2003. Furthermore, budget-related bills to be examined during the session include a revision bill of the Industry Revival Law and an Industrial Revitalization Corporation bill. The following bills are expected to be introduced for deliberation: a revision bill of the Labour Standards Law aimed at reviewing fixed-term labour contracts; bills concerning work rules, such as an revision bill of the Employment Agencies Law; Employment Stability Law revision bill; privacy-protection bills to safeguard personal data held by government offices; and bills designed to defend the country against direct military attacks. Rengo has been working to introduce a Part-time and Fixed-term Workers bill.

  2. There is talk of a "March crisis" - a rush of corporate bankruptcies at the end of fiscal 2002. It is expected that the worsening business slump and employment situation will accelerate uneasiness of workers. This Diet session should be seen extremely important for economic and employment recovery for which drastic measures are necessary to be taken.

  3. During today's Diet rally, Rengo called the Diet to re-draw up the 2003 budget in a way to beat deflation and create jobs. Rengo announced giving the highest priority to: realising an employment- and recovery-oriented budget; blocking passage of revision bills for the worse of the Labour Standards Law and the Employment Agencies Law; preventing cuts in unemployment insurance benefits; setting up a Part-time and Fixed-term Employment Law guaranteeing equal treatment.

    "This Diet session has an important mission to decide the direction of Japan's future, in particular the life and security of Japan and its people," said Rengo President Mr. Sasamori. He also announced:

    a) It is a mission of trade unions to secure employment and living of working people. Therefore, Rengo must make workers' voices heard in the Diet and answered by the politics, no matter by governing or opposition parties.

    b) In the case that our demands are not realised, the economy is not recovered and the employment situation is not made better, Rengo will start a national movement with all workers, jobless people, employers of closed-down small and medium enterprises, etc. and turned their anger upon the Diet.

    c) Rengo will appeal the Government to stick with peace diplomacy - not to resort to armed force - as regards the Iraqi standoff and emergency bills.

  4. All workers and their families want the current Diet session to find a breakthrough in the living and employment crisis. During the 156th Diet session, Rengo will take all possible measure to press the Government to shift their policies towards the recovery and the rooting-out of uneasiness about living and jobs. In doing so, Rengo will work with all its affiliates and members, as well as the whole population.