From WEEKLY MDS No.1018, January 18, 2008 logo

Diminish Military Budget to Enhance Welfare / Scrap New "Anti-Terrorism" Law to Make Breakthrough

Daring to pass the bill again against people's will

On January 12, 60 days will have passed after the New "Anti-Terrorism" Special Measures Bill was passed in the House of Representatives, and then sent to the House of Councilors for deliberation. In order to have it happen during the current Diet session, the Fukuda cabinet and the ruling parties had extended the session term again for 30 days. The ruling parties' plan is to have the New "Anti-Terrorism" Special Measures Bill passed in the House of Representative a second time to enact it - and mass media report this scenario as if it were an established fact. However, things will not go so smoothly.

The scenario is doomed because the scheme to pass the draft law again is to trample down the people's intent quite violently. In any poll conducted at the yearend, the approval rate for the Fukuda administration dropped acutely, showing the disapproval rate exceeding the approval rate. The Mainichi Newspapers (in the December 15 and 16 issue) reported an approval rating of 33%l against a disapproval rating of 44%. The Asahi Shimbun (in the December 19 and 20 issues) reported an approval rating of 31% against a disapproval rating of 48%. Also, a majority is against the move to pass the Bill in the Lower House again, as reported on the Mainichi Newspaper that 32% of voters support the move and 57% of them don't. Furthermore, objections to the fuel supply operation itself are growing steadily.

Going ahead with such re-approval of the Bill in the Lower House in negligence of the trend among voters and against the public opinion can be tantamount to digging a hole for the Fukuda administration itself. It is a highly risky bet.

Alternative from Democratic Party to back up resumption of troops dispatch

Under these circumstances above, however, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has submitted their "alternative," a draft "Terrorism Eradication Law" to the House of Councilors. Although it is reported that the draft law aims to allow Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops to Afghanistan for the limited purpose of "reconstruction assistance," it contains more. The need for developing a permanent legislation for dispatching SDF troops for "war on terror" is stated as well as the need for considering participation of SDF troops in maritime intercept operations. This retouched policy of the DPJ is effectively promoting overseas dispatch of SDF troops, showing its stance in line with global capitalism.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere surrounding the Afghanistan affair is significantly changing. MI6, a British intelligence agency, has had talks with Taliban representatives six times since last summer. The reason is "To bring about peace and encourage Taliban to participate in politics," according to December 26 Daily Telegraph. Officers from the Karzai administration have also attended these negotiations. Moreover, the US administration and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) have started a comprehensive review of their missions in Afghanistan, as The New York Times reported on December 16, because the current situation reveals their effort being lost to no avail.

While the US and UK are reviewing their strategy on the occupation of Afghanistan, even eroding the stated cause of "war on terror," the ruling Liberal Democratic and New Komeito parties and the opposition DPJ are adhering to the policy for re-dispatching Maritime SDF troops hand in hand. What can be more absurd?

No other option for the bill than repealing

For both the New Anti-Terrorism Bill and DPJ's "alternative," there is no way to go other than repealing.

At present, the crude oil price is over $100 per barrel and related commodity prices are all rising. The people's living is under direct attack day to day, even threatening life of the poor suffering from increased burdens and reduced medical and welfare measures. On the other hand, global companies are making historic profit increases. Anger at war and neoliberal policies is growing. Among ordinary people, a common feeling is this: "No more fuel give-away to US battleships in the Indian Ocean. Use that money for us people suffering under kerosene price hikes."

Gather the anger and corner the Fukuda cabinet. The first step is to repeal the New Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Bill. And let us proceed to develop the public opinion calling, "Protect life and living. Diminish military spending. Increase spending for welfare, medical services and education!" Expand our struggle for radical turnaround of the policy line for war and neoliberalism. (January 6)