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JAW Campaigns to Simplify and Ease Burden of Complicated Automobile-Related Taxes

Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers Unions (JAW), an industrial labour organization comprising 770,000 workers employed in the automobile industry, conducted a signature-collecting campaign from September 5 to November 2, 2011, aimed at changing the automobile tax system. The campaign, carried out jointly with the Automobile Tax System Reform Forum, which comprises 21 automobile-related organizations, gathered 4,364,799 signatures during the period, thus clarifying the strong desire among automobile users to simplify and lighten automobile-related taxes in Japan.
At present, the tax system for automobiles, which are a livelihood necessity, is complicated, with nine heavy taxes levied at the stages of acquisition, ownership, and driving. In total, they amount to around eight trillion yen a year. The automobile-related tax burden, especially for acquisition and ownership, is 2.4-49 times heavier in Japan than in the United States and European countries. Clearly the excessive burden on automobile users is obstructing sound domestic sales.
Armed with the 4,364,799 signatures, JAW, together with the Japan Automobile Federation and the Automobile Tax System Reform Forum, called for abolition of the automobile acquisition tax and automobile tonnage tax and drastic revision of the fuel tax. Through lobbying of the government, ruling and opposition parties, and related ministries, a campaign was conducted to ease the heavy burden from the standpoint of automobile users and labour and management.
As a result, since the lobbying and the 4.36 million users who signed their names in the signature-collecting campaign reflect the popular will, the government and ruling Democratic Party of Japan announced a partial reduction of the automobile tonnage tax and a roadmap toward fundamental reform in their fiscal 2012 tax reform outline, as well as such measures as tax cuts and subsidies for eco-cars. Although the campaign was effective in this way, however, the government's response did not go as far as completely scrapping the automobile acquisition tax and automobile tonnage tax.
In view of these circumstances, from now on also JAW will remain strongly aware of the pending crisis in terms of the hollowing of domestic industry and loss of jobs. Deepening solidarity among labour, management, and user representatives, the confederation will continue to call for an easing of the excessive burden by lobbying the government and ruling and opposition parties and also arousing public opinion through continuous nationwide policy-realization activities.

Unemployment Rate and Effective Job Availability Rate Both Show Improvements in 2011

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced the average full unemployment rate for 2011 on January 31. The aim of this survey is to clarify the state of employment and unemployment in Japan.
The results of the survey showed that the full unemployment rate for 44 prefectures in Japan (excluding the three prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi, for which data collection was incomplete due to the Great East Japan Earthquake) was 4.5%. Clearly the unemployment situation remains severe.
On the same day, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare announced the effective job availability rate, that is, the average number of vacancies for each job seeker. The average effective job availability rate for 2011 was 0.65, up 0.13 points over the 0.52 registered in 2010 and an improvement for the second consecutive year. (This figure means that there were 65 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.)
The new job availability rate (the number of new job seekers divided by the number of new job vacancies), meanwhile, was 1.05, up 0.16 points over the 0.89 registered in 2010 and the first time in three years for the figure to rise above 1. One of the reasons for the upward trend was the increase in the number of vacancies in the construction industry in response to reconstruction demand following the Great East Japan Earthquake, especially in the disaster area.
In the government's Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) is participating in policymaking as a study group special member representing labour. RENGO has argued that emergency employment measures in combination with industrial policy are essential and that the budget should be expanded to, among other things, create jobs utilizing the regional characteristics of the three hardest-hit prefectures in northeastern Japan. As a result of RENGO's efforts, since the second supplementary budget the government has earmarked around 400 billion yen for measures to boost employment.

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