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Japan's Economic Recovery Turns Sour  Michael Eisenscher
 Mar 16, 2000 20:37 PST 
Dear Friends,

As the heading notes, Year 2000, March 14, Tuesday.
Late again, but we'll catch up, because the situation becomes more and more
critical.

Tuesday, for those who follow the market, Akahata with its over two million
circulation analyzes the stagnant and shrinking economic situation, the
government's policies forcing people to buy the minimum and worry about the
future. Government survey shoiws 49.8 percent fear they may lose their
jobs. The government persists in pouring money into bvig companies and
construction projects.

Final note is on the growth and activity of the "popular front" the JCP
initiated 20 years ago when the Socialists split to move to the right.
Now with 4.9 million members it is active all over Japan. The split, of
course, is history. They are back, and the Democrats with them.


----------
From: JPS[SMTP:jpsp-@twics.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2000 9:29 AM
To: jpsp-@twics.com
Subject: JPS2000314-1

FIRST TRANSMISSION, TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2000

JPS 03-046
Negative GDP growth shows economic recovery as illusory: Akahata

      TOKYO MAR 14 JPS -- On the negative growth rates of the gross domestic
product (GDP) for the second consecutive quarters, Akahata's editorial of
March 14 said the figures show that the government view that the economy is
on the recovery course is illusory. The full text of the editorial follows:

    The growth rate of the GDP for the Oct.-Dec. 1999 quarter was a
substantial negative annual 5.5 percent. Historically this is the third
largest negative growth rate for a quarter, following those at the first
oil
shock in 1974 and soon after the consumption tax rate increase in 1997.

Economic recession on U.S. standards

    This is the record consecutive negative growth to follow the Jul.-Sep.
1999 quarter. Such a serious situation as this is classified as "economic
recession" by U.S. standards. The negative economic growth in two
consecutive quarters more than lose the economic growth in the first two
quarters of 1999. This is like going back to the end of 1998, when negative
growth continued for 5 straight quarters.

    Many people, the mass media, knowledgeable people and opposition parties
frequently criticized the government, saying that the conventional measures
that the government is promoting are ineffective to boost the economy and
on
the contrary will cause fiscal failure.

    The Obuchi coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party, the
Liberal Party and the Komei Party rejected all criticisms and continued to
extravagantly budget projects which benefit general contractor construction
companies, major corporations and banks, on the pretext that economic
recovery is the priority task. This has resulted in a disastrous situation
not only in national finances but also in the entire economic activity. The
consequences are really serious.

    Even today the government is showing no signs of correcting its
misgovernment. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi says the fall in growth rate is
due to temporary factors, and Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa sticks to
his
optimistic view and said it will change for the better in Jan.-Mar. 2000
quarter. Taichi Sakaiya, Economic Planning Agency director general, even
suggested that he will upwardly revise the EPA monthly report to be
released
on March 7.

    The substantial negative growth in GDP while investment in plant and
equipment has changed to a positive growth is due to the personal
consumption, a major determinant factor in relation to economic growth,
showing a negative 6.3 percent annual rate as a consequence of consecutive
substantial decline in worker' income.

    It is clear that this is not just a temporary aspect. The LDP-LP-Komei
coalition government is mostly responsible for chilling the personal
consumption so much.

    Far from curbing major companies' restructuring and personnel cuts, the
government has encouraged such measures and endorsed them through
legislation which includes the Industrial Revitalization Law.

    The government has squandered money on public works projects which only
benefit general contractor construction companies, but has refused to
decrease the consumption tax rate, although a majority of the people wanted
it, and adversely revised the social security systems.

    The draft national budget for FY 2000 is based on such government
policy.

    Under the circumstances, the people have got lower income and spent less
on consumption. They are increasingly reluctant to buy things because they
are very concerned about their future jobs and life.

    An EPA research shows that the largest ever number of the employees,
49.8%, fear they might loose their jobs while the smallest ever number of
them are full of hope for their future.

    Central and local governments have long-term debts accumulated but the
ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the
Komei Party cannot even put forward a plan to clear these debts. As such an
irresponsible attitude of the coalition government persists, the
deteriorating fiscal situation of central and local governments have
deprived the people of motivation to spend money for consumption.

Best solution is dissolution of House of Representatives for general
election

    In an House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting, an LDP member said,
"Inspiration rules the economy. I want the EPA director general to give us
something inspirational that would serve business recovery".

    In response, EPA Director General Taichi Sakaiya said volubly, "We can
expect full economic recovery in September. In FY 2001, we will enter a new
stage of economic growth."

    Does he really think that he can evade his responsibility if he tells
such a story to the people and small- and mid-size businesses who are
suffering from the sluggish economy? How irresponsible he is!

    The coalition government led by P.M. Obuchi must not remain in power
anymore. The House of Representatives must be dissolved and a general
election be held to change politics. This is exactly what we need to boost
the economy. (end item)

JPS 03-047
GDP falls for the second consecutive quarters

    TOKYO MAR 14 JPS -- Japan's gross domestic products (GDP) during the
October-December, 1999 quarter made the second consecutive drops, marking a
real 1.4 percent drop with seasonal adjustment, which is minus 5.5% annual
rate over the previous terms, the Economic Planning Agency said on March
13.

    The seasonal figure ranks third, following the 3.4% fall in
January-March, 1973 quarter, the first 'oil shock' period, and the 2.0%
fall
in April-June, 1997 quarter, just after the consumption tax rate was raised
to 5%.

    The agency's Director General Taichi Sakaiya at a press conference said
Japan's economy will move on a self-sustained basis, advancing an
optimistic
view on the economic recession.

    Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Kazuo Shii commented on the
EPA
announcement:

    The announcement shows that economic measures by the Obuchi cabinet have
been neither successful in rehabilitating the failed finance, nor in
boosting the economy. Both financial reconstruction and economic
stimulation
have failed.

    Especially, the shrink in the whole economic activity has been caused by
the decline in personal consumption as the results of (1) the restructuring
by major companies with the government's assistance minimized the workers'
earnings by 5 trillion yen in total; (2) additional payments for social
security have added anxieties about the people's life plans.

    The Economic Planning Agency argues that a little bit increase in the
equipment investment is a successful indication of economic rehabilitation.
But, most of the increase in the equipment investment took place in
intelligence and communications companies where personnel reduction has
been
in rush. So the index in no way hints at an increase in employment,
earning,
and consumption. (end item)

JPS 03-048
260,000 people protest at heavy tax burden

    TOKYO MAR 14 JPS -- In a concerted action to protest at heavy tax
burden,
about 260,000 people at 590 different places across the nation
simultaneously filed their final income tax returns on March 13, two days
before the deadline.

    The concerted action has been organized since 30 years ago to express
anger and demands relating to the use of taxmoney.

    The participants were furious about the nation's record-breaking debts
an
d the unrestricted use of taxmoney on large public works and banks.

*          *          *

    On the same day, 20 labor and small business representatives of met in
the House of Representatives Dietmembers Building in opposition to the
heavy
tax burden, and discussed the present financial crisis of the nation.

    A representative of small- and medium-sized business owners pointed out
that the prolonged economic recession was triggered by the introduction of
the consumption tax and its rate increase, and criticized the government
for
transforming the 645 trillion yen (about $ 6.45 trillion) national debts
into the people's burden. (end item)

JPS 03-049
Progressive Unity Forum marks 20th anniversary

    TOKYO MAR 14 JPS -- It is 20 years since the National Forum for Peace,
Democracy and Progressive Unity (Progressive Unity Forum) was established
in
response to the Japanese Communist Party's call for the creation of
organizations to seek people's unity to achieve progressive change of
Japanese politics.

    In early 1980, the Socialist Party turned its back on the progressive
movement it had with the Japanese Communist Party and the democratic
individuals by concluding the "policy agreement" with the Komei Party. The
JCP 15th Congress in February 1980 proposed launching a new people's
movement for progressive unity, a movement not based on concern with any
particular combination of political parties.

    In the past 20 years, the Progressive Unity Forum has developed as a
grassroots movement for the transformation of Japanese society by putting
forward three political objectives of progress to safeguard the people's
livelihoods; defend the Constitution; and abrogate the Japan-U.S.Safety
Treaty to establish a peaceful and independent Japan.

    It has grown to a nationwide forum with the participation of 4.5 million
people. At the start of the movement the number was 3.9 million. The
movement now has 521 local Progressive Forums and 134 workplace Progressive
Forums.

   Recent subjects addressed by the movement range from issues related to
U.S. bases in Okinawa and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to environmental
concerns and the nation's capital relocation scheme proposed by the
national
government.

    The recent tendency is that starting with some specific issues, forums
are developing discussion of more fundamental key questions and sometimes
they will go beyond discussion to help organize local movements for solving
specific problems.

    The Nishiokitama Forum, a local unit in Yamagata Prefecture in
northeastern Japan, held a symposium on the nursing care insurance system,
which is starting in April as a public insurance. A town government
official
in charge of the matter took part in it as a panelist. Following the
symposium, petitions were organized to the town government and the
assembly,
calling for improved application of the nursing care insurance.

    Moved by the petition based on compelling demands of the local
residents,
the town government promised premiums reductions and cuts in users' fees
for
the services. (end item)

(E N D)
	
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