Japan from the inside out

It’s a sin to tell a lie

Posted by ampontan on Friday, July 9, 2010

THOMAS SOWELL’S description of a scam that that been run repeatedly by Democrats in Washington, D.C. makes one wonder if the Democrats in Tokyo are taking lessons:

Democrats start spending money wildly, handing out goodies to a wide range of people who they want to vote for them, while Republicans complain about deficits and the national debt. Then, when the public becomes alarmed about the debts that are piling up, the Democrats get the Republicans to vote for higher taxes to deal with the debt crisis, in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”

Sometimes the deal is sweetened by the Democrats promising to make spending cuts if the Republicans vote for higher taxes, so that there can be one of those “bipartisan” solutions so beloved by the media. But, after the Republicans vote for the tax increases, and come running up to find the spending cuts, the Democrats snatch away the spending cuts and the Republicans fall right on their backsides…

Republicans are not the only suckers in this game. The voting public’s willingness to believe fancy rhetoric and ignore hard facts is a crucial part of this scam.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Democrats are playing their own game by leading the cheers for increases of both the consumption tax and the income tax for “fiscal reconstruction” to prevent Japan from applying the Grecian formula. They’ve turned their superficial effort at spending cuts into a dog-and-pony show for television with easy-on-the-eye Ren Ho as one of the MCs. She’s a first-term upper house member whose primary employment before election was as a model and television presenter.

The primary difference in the comparison between the big D Democrats is that, other than during the Koizumi/Abe era, the Liberal Democratic Party is just as complicit as the Dems. The latter have even gotten the LDP on board for a 10% consumption tax increase, showing that the party still thinks mudboats can float. Maybe they should just consider removing the Liberal from their name and removing any doubts. The only political opposition is coming from the Koizumians, the “rising tide” LDP wing led by Nakagawa Hidenao, and, to a certain extent, Your Party.

It doesn’t take much looking to see what will wind up happening. The fiscal policies being pushed by the DPJ and their dead certain/dead wrong economists such as Ono Yoshiyasu will take a pratfall of their own. And as sure as God made little green ume, that will provoke calls for more government spending because it just wasn’t enough the first/second/third time. The usual suspects in the U.S. are already banging their golden goblets on the sidewalk for a third stimulus, despite the failure of the first two and the encroaching penumbra of a double-dip recession. The only employment saved has been in the public sector, and chances are excellent that’s how it will shake down in Japan too.

How difficult can it be to realize that the solution is to STOP SPENDING, and that the first trees to which the fiscal foresters should apply their chain saws are in the deep woods of the public sector? But how difficult can it be to realize that the DPJ’s ties with public sector unions guarantee those forests will remain virgin? In the party’s manifesto, the DPJ promised to reduce national public employee personnel expenses by 20%. (Insert canned laughter.)

It’s a sin to tell a lie

DPJ Secretary-General Edano Yukio recently tried to defend the party by saying they had very few ties to national public sector employee unions. Mr. Edano claimed most were affiliated with Japan’s Communist Party. The secretary-general is an attorney, by the way, and we all know how closely attorneys-turned-pols adhere to the truth.

The Reds got upset, even though Kokko Roren, a public sector union with 110,000 members affiliated with Zenroren, the National Confederation of Trade Unions, does have unofficial ties with the JCP. Some of the senior executives in the union are party members, and the membership is tacitly encouraged to vote Communist. But both the JCP and the Zenroren demanded a retraction because they have no official affiliation—unlike the ties between the DPJ and Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation.

One has to wonder if Mr. Edano has a problem with short-term memory loss. On the Japanese-language part of the DPJ website, there is (or was until recently) a report of Mr. Edano’s visit to Rengo headquarters just a fortnight before the bickering began. They signed an agreement pledging member support for the DPJ in the upper house election.

Mr. Edano gave a speech in which he thanked the group for its backing, offered the Japanese version of the global soc-dem boilerplate, and pledged to create with the group a society where people can work with peace of mind. Whenever a politician says that to a union with public sector employees, he means he promises to make it next to impossible to lay them off.

Meanwhile, Rengo Chairman Koga Nobuaki said:

Everyone recognizes that you have achieved a change of government and we have started to create a new society. We must not stop the trend toward creating a new society. Indeed, we must not allow the hands of the clock to be turned back.

Let’s put aside the fact that the new society they envision would require turning back the hands of the clock to a tired old era that was remarkable for its lack of success and superfluity of unproductiveness, and look at which unions are affiliated with Rengo. As you can see from this list on their English page, the affiliates include Jichiro (The All-Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union), Nikkyoso (The Japan Teachers’ Union), JPGU (The Japan Postal Group Union—is the DPJ’s stance on Japan Post privatization starting to make sense?), NHK Roren (The Federation of All-NHK Labor Unions), and Zen Insatsu, (All Printing Bureau Labor Union, for workers at the National Printing Bureau, which the Abe administration wanted to privatize. It was returned to direct governmental control during the first Ren Ho dog and pony show).

That’s a lot of public sector unions, but still no “national” public sector unions—until we get to the 120,000-member strong Kokko Rengo (Japan Public Sector Union).

So, who’s in Kokko Rengo?

Their Japanese-language website says it has several members. First on the list is the Kokko Soren, or the Japan General Federation of National Public Service Employees’ Unions, which itself consists of five unions:

1. Zennorin, the labor union for non-management personnel of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (including independent administrative corporations, i.e., the entities where retired bureaucrats slide into amakudari jobs)

2. Zenkaihatsu, the labor union for employees of the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport

3. Zaimu Shokuso, the labor union for employees of the Finance Ministry

4. Zenzaimu, local finance bureau employees in the Finance Ministry

5. Okinawa Kokkoro, a union for national government workers in agencies and independent administrative corporations in Okinawa

It’s also affiliated with:

  • The Japanese Confederation of National Tax Unions for regional bureaus of the National Tax Agency
  • The Labor Federation of Government Related Organizations, which represent and organize 27,500 members of 67 affiliated trade unions. The members work in special public corporations, incorporated administrative agencies, foundations and other non-profit organizations.
  • Zenchuro, the All-Japan Garrison Forces Union, for workers at American military installations
  • The Japan Customs Personnel Labor Union (which for some reason has a photo of an attractive beach on its website)
  • The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Office Workers’ Union
  • With observer status: Kokkai Shokuren, consisting of three unions for employees at the Diet and the Diet library

Will the Democratic Party of Japan actually come up with serious reforms for public sector employment and cut government expenditures?

Will Edano Yukio ever come clean?

When shrimp learn to whistle.


There are plenty of low hanging branches ready to cut even for the amateur woodsman. For example, legislators at both the national and sub-national level receive public funds to conduct policy research, separate from their salaries and office expenses. They are required to return the unused portion each year, but they’ve been so assiduous in researching policy matters the governments never got much back.

Last year, however, Kumamoto began requiring prefectural legislators to provide receipts for all expenditures of the policy research funds. The prefectural government recently disclosed its income and expenditure report for FY 2009, and it turns out that the unused portion of the funds returned last year was 86 times the amount of the previous year. That’s got Fukuoka Prefecture mulling a similar measure. Let’s hope it just wasn’t a down year for policy study.

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3 Responses to “It’s a sin to tell a lie”

  1. kushibo said

    while Republicans complain about deficits and the national debt

    Why do they do this only when they’re out of power? 😉

  2. ceabaird said

    No. The solution is not deficit reduction, the solution is increased government spending on infrastructure, research, and schools. A nation in not a family – when a family has less money to spend, reduce outlays. A nation needs increased revenue – taxes – to reduce deficits. Most taxes are related to trade, industry, and business. When demand shrinks because people are losing jobs, getting salaries cut, cutting government outlays – which are mostly aimed at businesses – further shrinks the economy. Now you’ve created a death spiral. What doesn’t work is giving massive “free money” to banks in the hope they start loaning money out. With less revenue to repay loans, banks refuse to loan to all but other banks, net boost to general economy? Very low, as we see in the US.

  3. […] Are the Tokyo Democrats trying the implement the same scam of the US Democrats? […]

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