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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 December 1 - 7  > PM Kishida’s vision for Digital Garden City Nation has nothing to do with revitalization of local economies
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2021 December 1 - 7 [POLITICS]

PM Kishida’s vision for Digital Garden City Nation has nothing to do with revitalization of local economies

December 2, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The government, led by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, is pushing forward with Kishida’s vision for a Digital Garden City Nation under the slogan, “Revitalize rural areas and connect them to the world”. This plan, however, puts support for digital projects conducted by large corporations before support for measures to revitalize local economies. The government should shift from policies that have widened the gap between urban and rural areas.

PM Kishida has set up a council discussing ways to realize a Digital Garden City Nation whose members include Keio University Professor Emeritus Takenaka Heizo as well as Japan Business Federation Vice Chair and JR East Railway Company Chair Tomita Tetsuro, who both call for extreme neoliberal policies such as cutbacks in social welfare and shakeout of smaller businesses. It is obvious that council members were selected from the viewpoint of meeting large business circles’ demands.

The government in its economic policy package, which was approved in November, designated the Digital Garden City Nation plan as the mainstay of economic growth and incorporated various large-scale public works projects, including developing a next-generation high-speed communication network and establishing more data centers. In contrast, the package lacks measures to increase job opportunities in rural areas and measures to narrow the urban-rural wage gap.

At a recent council meeting, the government submitted the results of a survey regarding the population inflow to the Tokyo metropolitan area from other areas. In the survey, as major reasons why local people left their hometowns, many respondents cited difficulties in finding desired jobs and jobs with favorable working conditions. The government should work to change this situation and abandon its theory that economic growth of big businesses will benefit local economies. The urgent need is for the government to implement measures to promote small- and mid-sized enterprises which are regarded as the backbone of local economies, resolve pressing issues facing rural districts, and realize a nationwide, uniform minimum wage system.

Policies introduced by successive governments mainly led by the Liberal Democratic Party have accelerated the concentration of people and industries in Tokyo while causing economic decline and population outflows in rural regions. Under this situation, even the government began to consider the need to remedy the excessive concentration of people and businesses in Tokyo. However, it still intends to promote large-scale urban development projects under the pretext of strengthening international competitiveness and to further concentrate people, goods, and money in Tokyo by such means as constructing a new high-speed Chuo Shinkansen railway using linear motor technology. As long as the government sticks to these policies, the urban-rural gap will continue to increase.

It is government responsibility to work for decentralization and, with respect for local autonomy, provide support for local efforts to develop their regions into anxiety-free ones.
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