Posted by ampontan on Thursday, September 8, 2011
AT A Tokyo symposium sponsored by the Japanese Association of Corporate Directors on 5 September, former Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichiro gave us a taste of what we’ve been missing since he stepped down from office — an insightful politician able to use his mother wit to clearly and convincingly explain the reasons for his positions. Nowhere was heard (or at least quoted) an unsupported platitude. It was his first address with the news media present since July 2010. Here’s a sample.
On the Democratic Party:
The fiscal difficulties mean that governments of the ruling party will continue to find it hard going. The change in government was a good thing, because the DPJ diet members have finally done us the favor of understanding just how difficult it is to be the ruling party.
On DPJ domestic policies:
Though (we) created a system for privatization that required absolutely no tax funds, the Democratic Party has eliminated expressway tolls. How do they expect to repay the debts of the Japan Public Highway Corporation? Theirs is a system that places a tax burden on people who do not use automobiles.
On their pledges:
The DPJ said that it could easily find JPY 16 trillion in funding sources if they formed a government. I’d like to see them do it without backtracking on that promise.
And on their foreign policy, specifically the “equilateral triangle” policy:
China is the more important country to us economically, but no policy of any kind will make headway unless mutual safety has been secured. After (its effort and sacrifice in) the Pacific War, the United States returned all the territory it occupied. China claims Okinawa and the Senkakus as its own territory. I do not accept the argument that we should have the same relationship with both.
His argument about highway tolls is noteworthy in particular because it highlights one the semi-libertarian ideas that were applied in Japan until not so long ago. Mr. Koizumi did not mention that only about 10% of registered vehicles in Japan use expressways, but Tokyo Metro Vice-Governor Inose Naoki — who’s been a published non-fiction writer for more than 30 years — has made that point.
High school tuition was another example. Under Japanese law, obligatory education ends at age 15, or the age at which a student leaves junior high school/middle school. That was the basis for requiring tuition to attend high school. (There’s a lot of common sense underlying that policy. No one’s making you go.) Government subsidies began during the LDP years, but the DPJ made high school free for all.
Also, one of Japan’s old-age pension systems requires monthly payments for a minimum of 25 years. It is the responsibility of the individual to make his own arrangement for payments. (I’ve got three years of payments remaining.) Failure to do so means you don’t qualify for the pension. The DPJ wants to scrap this requirement and apply consumption tax receipts for this purpose instead.