Kan in the lion’s den

On Friday, the National Governors Association held its second meeting in Nagata-cho in as many months, an emergency meeting to protest plans to end the special fund for road construction by redirecting gasoline tax revenue into the general fund. Higashikokubaru Hideo, popular comedian-cum-governor of Miyazaki prefecture, evoked the name of bankrupt Yubari City in calling for the preservation of dedicated road construction funds.

Kan Naoto, DPJ acting president, actually attended the meeting to defend the DPJ’s position in a debate with Ibuki Bunmei, LDP secretary-general. Asahi described Mr. Kan as “alone and helpless” as he was showered with boos from the gathered assembly for pointing out the cost markups associated with bid-rigging.

The DPJ faces an uphill battle in convincing (mostly LDP) prefectural and local officials that it actually has their best interests in mind, that it wants to free dying regions from the dead end of economies rooted in inefficient construction and agriculture. Do the people of these areas actually profit from this construction? Or do bureaucrats who retire into positions in semi-public and private companies gain more?

Does anyone still think that this is Mr. Koizumi’s LDP? Where, I wonder, are those reformers to stand up for smaller, more efficient government and an LDP standing on the side of urban consumers and taxpayers?

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