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2012年5月 9日 (水)

行政改革 実行の工程表と全体像を示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 9, 2012)
Vision, schedules needed for administrative reform
行政改革 実行の工程表と全体像を示せ(5月8日付・読売社説)

It is problematic to promote administrative reform haphazardly for expedient reasons.

The government first must present a comprehensive vision for the reforms and schedules before carrying them out.

A council on administrative reform held its inaugural meeting Monday. The council is an advisory body to Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada, who is in charge of such reform.

The panel comprises Kyocera Corp. Honorary Chairman Kazuo Inamori, JR Tokai Chairman Takayuki Kasai and eight other experts. It will discuss a reduction in overall personnel costs for national government employees, the sale of state-owned property and regulatory reform.

The panel plans to model itself on the second ad hoc Administrative Reform Council led by business leader Toshiwo Doko, which was instrumental in the 1980s in bringing about the privatization of the Japanese National Railways and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation.

It is not a bad idea to draw on the wisdom of the private sector in achieving administrative reform, but it is indispensable for the government to show it is prepared to put itself at risk, as it is calling on the people to bear an additional burden in the form of a consumption tax increase.


Why a new panel now?

We cannot help wondering why the Democratic Party of Japan-led government has established a new panel to discuss the vision and need for administrative reform when more than 30 months have passed since the change of government. The government needs to take a more strategic approach.

In addition to the Government Revitalization Unit, which was set up with great fanfare by the DPJ-led administration, there are many other reform-related organizations. These include the national civil service reform promotion headquarters and the administrative reform execution headquarters established in January, plus their secretariats and an administrative reform promotion office. With so many bodies, there is concern the role and responsibility of each organization will become ambiguous.

Does the government believe administrative reform can proceed only if headquarters or forums are established? We are reminded of the superfluous creation of organizations and the chaos within the government in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake last spring. The system to promote administrative reform must be streamlined and integrated.

In mid-April, the DPJ and its coalition partner, the People's New Party, jointly submitted to the Diet a bill sponsored by lawmakers to implement administrative reform.

The bill calls for an overall reduction of personnel costs by 20 percent and the sale of 500 billion yen worth of state-owned property over five years. These numerical targets alone are insufficient.


Government must take lead

In regard to personnel costs, the bill stops short of presenting concrete reduction measures or a deadline for implementation. Many observers say the bill is designed only to conform with the DPJ's campaign platform for the 2009 general election.

It is important to concentrate on working out the reforms over a three-year period and set dates for implementation of the reforms, as mentioned in the bill. However, the government could do most of these things on its own initiative. It is questionable whether there is any significance in resorting to legislation to carry out reforms.

Rather than wait for the Diet to pass the bill, the government should decide on the order of priority of specific reforms and present a schedule aimed at achieving these reforms as early as possible.

We want Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Okada to exert their leadership in this respect.

Former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa and his followers within the party have expressed the irresponsible view that "something must be done before a tax increase." Substantive administrative reform is needed to ensure such an assertion does not prevail.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 8, 2012)
(2012年5月8日01時25分  読売新聞)


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