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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 November 19 - 25  > Stop the do-shu regional government system and improve local autonomy
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2008 November 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

Stop the do-shu regional government system and improve local autonomy

November 19, 2008
Akahata editorial

The government, the ruling parties, and the business sector are increasingly talking about introducing a do-shu (regional government) system that will reorganize the current 47 prefectures into a smaller number of regional administrative units, the aim being to shift all central government responsibilities, except for foreign affairs and national defense, onto local governments. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to submit in the next ordinary Diet session that begins in January a bill to establish the framework of the do-shu system.

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) recently published a proposal on the proposed do-shu system, estimating that it will save substantial fiscal resources by cutting labor costs and expenditure on public works investment, so that more tax money can be used to improve roads, ports and other industrial infrastructure.

Shifting burdens onto local governments while cutting workforce

How outrageous and self-centered it is to call for welfare services and education, which should be national government responsibilities, to be undertaken by local administrations while reducing the number of local public service employees, so that more tax money can be used for improving business infrastructure.

Nippon Keidanren explains how effective it will be to introduce the do-shu system.
Now that it is clear why the business sector is so enthusiastic about it, we call for the plan to be immediately withdrawn because it will reverse the tasks of the central and local governments in order to give the business sector, particularly large corporations, more sources of profits.

It is a constitutional task of the national government to provide its citizens with welfare services and education. To shift these responsibilities from the national government to local governments will allow the national government to pursue a course of building a country that is only interested in participating in U.S. wars.

The government, the LDP, and the business circle have claimed that the introduction of the “do-shu system” is the “creation of a new form of nation” and the “ultimate in structural reform policy.” The Keidanren estimate shows clearly that it is only interested in further cutbacks related to people’s living conditions, even though the business sector is trying to leave affairs related to public life to local governments.

The Keidanren proposals claim that by reforming their administration and finance under the “regional government system,” local governments’ budgets for their employees’ wages and public investment can be reduced by 5.85 trillion yen. But how can such an amount of money be reduced by shifting responsibility over welfare and education programs from national to local governments? The quality of those programs will inevitably be lowered.

What about job opportunities for those who lose their jobs as public workers? Obviously, Toyota or Canon would not take responsibility for that.

The proposal claims that if “regional governments” maintain roads, ports, and other industry infrastructures with financial resources created by the “reform,” such projects will create new job opportunities. It means that only large corporations will gain new markets to create further benefits to themselves.

Promote policies that reflect residents’ voices

Keidanren insists that the possible effects of the “do-shu system” must be presented to the public as something visible. Otherwise, its “driving force” will not grow. However, public support for the system is not increasing because it is an adverse reform that allows the national government to relinquish its responsibility to provide the public with welfare services and education.

The government must not confuse citizens with the business circle’s selfish argument to introduce the “regional government system.” What the people need is to protect their welfare rights and promote local autonomy with residents being the key players.
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