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2013年11月12日 (火)

会計検査院報告 杜撰なインフラ管理を見直せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 12, 2013
Board of Audit warning must lead to better infrastructure management
会計検査院報告 杜撰なインフラ管理を見直せ(11月10日付・読売社説)

The improper and ineffective use of taxpayers’ money remains strikingly conspicuous.

The Board of Audit, in its auditing report for the fiscal year that ended on March 31 this year, has pointed out 630 cases of improper, questionable use of ¥490.7 billion of government funds.

Japan has long had the worst fiscal deficits among industrially advanced countries. No time should be wasted in buckling down to the challenge of fiscal reconstruction.

All ministries and agencies that have been asked by the board to rectify problematic use of public funds must squarely address the task of proper budgetary implementation.

The public funds watchdog this time focused its inspections on how public infrastructure has been maintained and managed because infrastructure is closely linked to the public’s safety.

The fact that the board’s inspections have uncovered a large number of cases of sloppy infrastructure management cannot be overlooked.

A case in point is problems with the management of overpasses across expressways.

The board’s inspections of all the nation’s approximately 4,500 overpasses have revealed that 635 of them have been left unchecked. In addition, it remains unconfirmed whether another 548 overpasses have been checked.

It is astonishing that no steps have been taken to prevent concrete pieces from becoming detached at 968 overpasses built 30 years or more ago. If pieces of concrete hit a passing motor vehicle, the result could be disastrous. In fact, such an accident happened on the Tomei (Tokyo-Nagoya) Expressway.

The collapse of an overpass in a major earthquake could sever expressway networks, rendering them unable to function as arteries for transporting emergency supplies.

Past lessons unheeded

Expressway companies built the overpasses to connect communities separated by the construction of thoroughfares, and their management is up to the relevant local municipalities.

Given that the structures were not built at the expense of the municipalities, local governments apparently tend to lack awareness of their responsibility to maintain and repair the overpasses.

Expressway operators and municipalities must heighten their collaboration to ensure the safety of the structures.

There also are a pile of problems with tunnels on national highways. The board’s inspections have revealed that no regular checks have been conducted on at least 11 of them during the past 10 years or so.

No lessons have been utilized from the collapse of the Toyohama Tunnel near Yoichi, western Hokkaido, in 1996, which killed 20 people. It is only natural that the Board of Audit has demanded that the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry thoroughly inspect national highway tunnels to ensure their safety.

Shikoku Railway Co. (JR Shikoku) has left 56 of its railway bridges unrepaired for more than three years despite knowing they needed repairs, according to the board. One railway bridge has been left without repairs for as long as 23 years, the board said. It naturally came under fire for having little safety awareness.

We are also astonished by the sloppiness, as uncovered by the board, of the central and local governments in reinforcing infrastructure to improve earthquake resistance.

In one instance, antiseismic ferroconcrete slabs were installed around pillars of bridges, but it was later learned that doing so weakened the quake-resistance of the bases of the pillars because of the additional load the pillars had to bear as a result of the reinforcement, the board noted.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has hammered out a policy of boosting national land resilience.

The sloppy rudimentary inspection and maintenance of existing infrastructure revealed by the Board of Audit could damage the trustworthiness of Abe’s policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 10, 2013)
(2013年11月10日01時58分  読売新聞)


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