House Member/Citizen's Pep Rally Held to Block Negative-Reform Pension Bill
09 April 2004
On April 7, the "House Members and Citizen's Pep Rally to Block Negative-Reform of the Pension Bill" was held by the Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party, RENGO, and the Rojinto Party at an auditorium in the House of Representatives building with 250 people in attendance. Speaking on behalf of RENGO, General Secretary Kusano criticized the government's bill as "not worthy of being called radical reform." Kusano strongly appealed to the audience saying "we will make a concerted and united effort with other parties in order to block the passage of this bill in the current Diet session as well as to establish a real pension system which can make the people feel safe." RENGO has launched its pension struggle headquarters and will continue to seek for a withdrawal of the government bill while it continues to develop various actions.
Photo: RENGO General Secretary Kusano speaks on behalf of RENGO. (April 7, House of Representatives Auditorium)
At the rally, representatives from each organization offered speeches. Dr. Inada Nada, a writer and psychiatrist, spoke on behalf of the Rojinto Party. (Rojinto is a 'virtual' political party which Dr. Nada has created and based on the internet. Its goals are to consider the welfare of the nation and take action as to what senior, as well as future senior people might do in order to reform this country.) Nada said "We want a pension system that is both easy to understand and reasonable for citizens, not a mere tinkering of numbers as the government's bill proposes. If the bill displayed recognition for mutual aid of public pensions we would support it, but we will not if it is wasteful government spending."
RENGO General Secretary Kusano said "RENGO has been receiving numerous angry complaints regarding this pension plan from the people. They all have expressed a feeling of insecurity toward the government, which prompts a general anxiety whenever they state that the pension system is in danger. They also are angry due to a general sense of mistrust over how pension funds have been used until now. The government's bill is utterly unworthy of the label of radical reform as are its revisions conducted every five years; it is merely more recalculation of burdens and benefits." He expressed RENGO's determination by saying that "having established our pension struggle headquarters, RENGO will continue to seek the withdrawal of the government's bill while at the same time continuing to develop various actions. We will make a concerted and united effort with other parties in order to block the passage of this bill in the current Diet session as well as to establish a real pension system which can make the people feel safe."
Social Democratic Party Vice President Katsuhiko Yokomitsu stated that "the ruling parties are trying to impose the government's bill on the nation without modification, although the bill has been revealed as defective during interpellations held during the Diet session." He stressed that "This bill is a fraud. It is not radical reform but only accelerates people's attitudes of less and estrangement from their pensions while inviting corruption of the pension system. More than anything else, it is for our citizens that we must force this bill to be scrapped at all costs."
Democratic Party of Japan President Naoto Kan voiced the opinion that "although Prime Minister Koizumi has publicly announced his intention to realize the integration of pension schemes, improve the problems facing disabled people without pensions, and abolish the privileged pension system for lawmakers, absolutely none of these issues have been reflected in the government's bill. He did not answer yes or no to any of the questions we asked him at the Diet session. There is no way that such flagrant obscuring of the issues with smoke and mirrors should be allowed. The government's bill is no more than a bill that will 'increase premiums for the next fourteen years.'" He continued by emphasizing that "we would like to propose the Democratic Party of Japan's draft as early as possible and soon afterward enter into serious deliberations. We want to stop the government's package and push forward with the establishment of a transparent and fair pension system."
Finally, those participants at the rally pledged to do all they could to support the blocking of the passage of the government's bill, and in solidarity participated in a three-part cheer of unity that was led by House of Representatives member Yasuko Komiyama of the Democratic Party of Japan. After which, the rally was closed.