Monday, March 17, 2008

One More For The Road

While the global financial system is going to hell*, I am still obsessing about the governments's gasoline levy bill in support of road construction, a piece of legislation which, according to today's Sankei Shimbun, the ruling coalition finally admits is unsalvageable.

Still, I cannot let a day go by without a dip into the bottomless cesspit of the offspring of the old Construction and National Land ministries.

The front page of Sunday's Mainichi Shimbun featured the results of an investigation into 50 corporations affiliated with the Ministry of National Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The 50 corporations had 7288 employees and 1063 members of the board of directors, a pretty rich 7:1 employees-to-directors ratio.

However, looking more closely, the median was a lot richer. Indeed in 16 of the 50 corporations, the number of members of the board of directors outnumbered the number of employees. The most absurd skewing was found in the National Land Policy Research Council (Kokudo Seisaku Kenkyūkai), an organization boasting 16 directors and 1 employee. Other magnificent organizations included the Tour De Hokkaidō Association (Tsūru do Hokkaido Kyōkai) with 17 directors and 6 employees; the Road Development Promotion Center (Dōro Kaihatsu Shinkō Sentā) with 21 directors and 8 employees; and the Hokkaidō Auto Resort Network Association (oh, I give up) with 24 directors and 6 employees.

Did anyone say anything about amakudari positions? A check of the 16 directors of the National Land Policy Research Council found that 9 were retired bureaucrats. Ouch.

Here is the original article.

Of course we also have today's report that the DPJ is asking questions about the 2.3 billion yen paid out over the last five years though the MLITT's "special road equipment account book" (道路整備特別会計) for taxi tickets for ministry employees traveling to and from the Ministry's eight regional equipment centers.

As much as the revision of the Constitution, as much as a reinterpretation of the ban on participation in collective self-defense, the attempt to wrestle down the road construction beast is a struggle over the identity of Japan. If the road lobby can be killed or restrained, much of what has been "Japan" and the "Japanese way of doing things" will cease to exist. Certainties will crumble...and many things considered "difficult" will suddenly become "possible."

Every little of light shone upon the monster weakens it. Every pinprick is making it bleed a little more, slowing it down.

* The void is filled by a depressed and angry Nihon Cassandra posting up a philippic from London.

1 comment:

Jan Moren said...

"an organization boasting 16 directors and 1 employee. "

Well, someone has to book the venue and pour sake during the directors' meetings.