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September 12, 2005

[SSJ: 3852] Re: campaign themes

From: Andrew DeWit
Date: 2005/09/09

> On Sunday I happened to stumble across an LDP campaign
> meeting in Oita. The candidate was supported by Minister
> Takenaka whose speech went along the following lines:
> 1. You dislike the idea of a taxation state which Japan will
> become without reform. You dislike the idea of heaven for
> civil servants

Personally, I think Takenaka Heizo's talk about paying taxes
nicely symbolizes the plentiful ironies and elisions of this election.
Google in Japanese for his name, "tax dodge" (datsuzei) and
"residents tax" (juuminzei) and you'll find there's considerable
evidence he dodged his local income tax payments in the 1990s.
Apparently, he did this by shifting residence status to the US
rather than be counted as a resident on January 1. This is said
to have happened over several years, and it seems he bragged
about it to his colleagues at Keio when he worked there. He
took the magazine "Friday" to court on this artful dodger charge
and won last year, on the narrow point that they couldn't prove
he didn't pay, but critics argue he has not filed evidence of local
tax payments from the years in question

In any case, one reform working its way through Japan's
much-maligned (and, pace Takenaka, already very small)
bureaucracy is to have procedures for local income tax payments
piggybacked on the national system, which would perhaps help
close the current loophole to the taxless state heaven that
Takenaka was probably not talking about in the above.

Also, all this trashing of the public sector going on in this
campaign reminds me of Ezra Suleiman's "Dismantling Democratic
States" (2003 http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7657.html),
a great comparative treatment of the politics and consequences of
state-bashing. There's a section on Japan that both Koizumi and
Okada ought to read. The continuing tragedy in New Orleans and
the role that the Bush regime "turkey farm" of FEMA played in
exacerbating it probably comes too late in this campaign to serve
as food for thought. But it suggests people ought to be careful of
what they wish for.

On the other hand - or from outer space, if you will - the radicals
on the Wall Street Journal editorial page have of course interpreted
the chaos in New Orleans as evidence that the state should be even


All the best,
Andrew DeWit

Approved by ssjmod at September 12, 2005 02:11 PM