At a cursory glance, I have been going a bit overboard on what a bad idea it is to merge Japan's two systems of childcare (Part I and Part II). I saw the unification of the hoikuen and yochien systems as reform for reform's sake: not offering a clear solution to a problem largely restricted to Tokyo and its bedroom suburbs; certain to spawn rivalries in between the personnel of the forcibly merged systems; and encouraging decay in the regulation covering childcare facilities.
Well, the plan to merge the two systems has been dumped. It is being killed in order to win the Liberal Democratic Party's support for the legislation of the combined reforms of social security and tax systems (shakai hosho zei ittai kaikaku, or ittai kaikaku for short). Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Komiyama Yoko (glaringly the only woman in the Noda Cabinet) has stated she will not fight for the unification. (J)
Now commentators would want us to think that this retreat from the promise made in the Democratic Party of Japan's 2010 Manifesto is a demonstration of the hopeless inability of the DPJ to follow through on its promises.
There is of course, another way of looking the situation: that the sacrifice of this promise and others like it are strategic and cheap -- giving up what have upon reflection been very bad or at least unaffordable ideas (eliminating expressway tolls; the 26,000 yen-a-month child allowance system) in return for what would be difficult-to-obtain cooperation from the LDP and the New Komeito on significant reforms, many of which the LDP and the New Komeito were too cowardly to impose upon the country when they held power.
Prime Minister Noda should therefore send gift sets to former party leaders Ozawa Ichiro and Kan Naoto, thanking them for stuffing the 2009 and 2010 manifestos with so many expendable promises.
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