From WEEKLY MDS No.900, August 19 issue logo

Postal Privatization Bills Voted Down and September 11 General Election Called / Chance to Topple Belligerent Koizumi Cabinet

Victory for anti-privatization forces

In its August 8 plenary session, the Upper House of the Japanese Diet voted down the postal privatization bills by a large margin of 108 to 125. The bills, positioned as the "core of the structural reform" and placed at the top of Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro's agenda, were scrapped. Finally, the discontent and anger felt by workers and citizens toward the neo-liberalist reform policies have begun yielding results.

Postal privatization would dismantle unified postal services enjoyed across the country, including in sparsely-populated areas and on isolated islands. Postal savings and insurance totaling 350 trillion yen would be drawn up through money games and fed to Japanese/US financial capitals. Even savings would be difficult to achieve for low-income groups and individuals for whom account maintenance fees are not affordable.

This sense of crisis has been reflected in opinion statements submitted by all prefectural assemblies and more than 90% of municipal assemblies that are either against the bills or calling for extensive deliberations of the bills. The rejection of the bills should not be credited to disobedient Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members among the lawmakers. It was a natural result of the objection by 70% of the public to the passage of the bills during this Diet session, indicating their attitude that it was not the time to be hustling over postal privatization.

Final phase of runaway politics

In despair, Koizumi decided to dissolve the Lower House and call a general election on September 11, making a public announcement on August 30.

The act of dissolving the Lower House, which had passed the bills, because of the rejection of the bills in the Upper House - this irrational and "penal" act caused even The Yomiuri Shimbun to question "relevance to bear historical justification" in its August 9 issue. At the ad hoc cabinet meeting that gave approval to the proposed dissolution, four ministers objected, and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, SHIMAMURA Yoshinobu, was dismissed. This was the first time since World War II that the prime minister has gone ahead with Diet dissolution, even daring to dismiss a cabinet member in order to dissolve the House.

As the LDP would not offer official support to the 37 members who voted against the postal privatization bills, the election will be a split one for them. Koizumi boasted that he would "destroy the old LDP to give birth to a new one." There is no guarantee, however, for the coalition of ruling parties embarking with 37 less members to obtain the majority required to maintain their ruling position.

Koizumi's terminal symptoms of a hard-pressed prime minister showed in the way he had a meeting with ex-prime minister MORI Yoshiro. While treating Mori with ten cans of imported beer and dried cheese and smoked salmon, he exclaimed, "It's my creed. I wouldn't mind being killed. I am the PRIME MINISTER!" What an obsession he has! Believe it or not, this man holds the highest seat of power in this nation.

Give judgment to the war-driven nation

In a press conference, Koizumi said, "It's Diet dissolution for the postal affairs. I want to ask the people whether they are for or against privatization," and dared to compare himself to Galileo Galilei who advocated the heliocentric theory, saying "And yet the earth still moves." However, Koizumi's pet argument, "all that can be done by the private sector should be left in its hands" is nothing more than a groundless fallacy that is no better than the geocentric theory.

What kind of tragedy can be brought about when the profit-first logic of global capitalism is introduced into the public service sector where life and safety must be secured before anything else - the accident on the JR Fukuchiyama Line was an obvious example. The more than 30,000 people who commit suicide every year for the seventh consecutive year, deserted shopping malls in suburban cities, youth deprived of hope and the handicapped discarded in the name of "self-support assistance" - these are results of privatization and neo-liberalist reform policies.

Also in the area of diplomacy, the Koizumi approach is clearly stuck in a cul-de-sac. Going ahead with the prime minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine (that enshrines Class A war criminals) would invite irreparable damage to Japan's diplomacy with Asian nations. In Samawah, Iraq, several hundred protesters demonstrate every day, calling out "We want electricity, water and security, not SDF (Japan Self-Defense Forces) troops!"

Now we have the opportunity to deliver a sentence on the Koizumi cabinet for driving intensely toward the buildup of a war-oriented nation, voiding the Constitution of Japan. In surges of the Non-Defended Localities movement and the movement for non-adoption of distorted history textbooks, identify and defeat belligerent candidates. Force Koizumi to step down as a prelude to Bush and Blair. (August 9)

Copyright Weekly MDS