Socialist Worker

Poorest to pay for millionaires’ debt in Japan

by Martin Percival
Issue No. 2208

Japan’s Prime Minister has announced plans to make the poorest in society pay for a debt which currently amounts to almost 230 percent of their GDP, the highest of any industrialised country.

In Britain, we have seen the government use their comparatively small debt as an excuse to massively cut public services which working people rely on, despite the fact they played no part in creating the economic crisis.

This week Naoto Kan, the new prime minister of Japan, spoke of his plans to bring about a similar strategy to reduce their much greater debt by cutting government spending and substantially increasing their sales tax.

This will have a hugely damaging affect on the poorest in society who—as in Britain—will find themselves paying for a crisis they did not create.

This statement interestingly came on the same week as an annual world wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini showed that Japan is now home to the second highest number of millionaires in the world, of which there are 1.65 million.

In a nation that despite having the second largest economy in the world has seen poverty rise to a shocking one in six people, these figures show that the economic crisis has had a horrific affect in increasing the gap between the richest and the poorest in society.

Naoto Kan tried to justify his plans by claiming that he was trying to avoid an economic meltdown as seen in Greece.

However the wealth report figures show that Japan clearly have the resources and funds to sufficiently improve their economy without making the poorest in society suffer for a debt they did not create.

Naoto Kan’s approval ratings are already dropping after he announced these plans, and trade unions have made it clear that they will not accept these policies.

In a statement the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) said they would not accept a return to neoliberal policies and demanded that the government “establish politics that starts from the needs of the public”, suggesting that if Naoto Kan’s plans are forced through they will face strong opposition from workers.

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Tue 29 Jun 2010, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2208
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