Sunday, February 03, 2008

In Kawagoe, they write letters

Hiramatsu Tomoko
66 years old
Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture

It was a few years ago, when I was returning to my ancestral home in Yamanashi Prefecture. I had turned off the Chuō Expressway and was driving through the dry land fields. Before, it had been an "agricultural lane" but now it was magnificent road, even wider than a prefectural highway. However, in 20 minutes on the road, the number of cars I met coming the other way was zero. Of course, there was no one either before me nor behind me either. This was even though it was the middle of the day. It was if the road had been reserved for me. As I gripped the steering wheel, I thought to myself, "What was the purpose of building this road?"

Furthermore, in a paddy fields area behind the home of my parents, another magnificent bypass had been built. Was it the reason why the main street running through the heart of the town had not been repaved or widened, and the shops had closed down and been abandoned?

That the construction of roads profits the rural areas is a logic camouflaging reality. The roads that have been built at great expense using the provisional tax rates of the gasoline taxes, can it be denied that in reality they are causing the collapse of heretofore existing rural communities?

What is needed in an aging society is not high-traffic volume roads but safe roads so that those residing in existing rural communities can live with peace of mind. Rather than the construction of rural roads that farmers do not use or enormous expressways that increase the pollution of the air, I would like road work that improves the quality of the roads in line with the actual lives of the people.

If we do this, there certainly enough in the present budget accomplish our purpose, even if the provisional tax rate is abolished.

"The highways built with the provisional tax rates are unnecessary" (Zanteizeiritsu tsukau daidōro wa fuyō)
Tokyo Shimbun (January 31, 2008), p. 5

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