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Japanese editorial excerpts.

TOKYO, April 21 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

POLITICAL EFFORT NEEDED FOR DECENTRALIZATION (The Daily Yomiuri as translated from the Yomiuri Shimbun)

Nothing concrete will be achieved in terms of the decentralization of power from the central government to local governments if the process is left in the hands of bureaucrats. A broad political initiative is required.

The committee for the promotion of decentralization reform, and government ministries and agencies are entering an all-out battle ahead of the committee's first advisory report that is scheduled to be compiled as early as late May.

The Cabinet Office and relevant ministries have steadfastly rejected the transfer of authority over road and river management from the central government to local governments.

Saying ''the handling of the matter by the Cabinet Office and each ministry is inadequate,'' Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda instructed all Cabinet members to cooperate with the government advisory panel. ''I want you to make a decision as an elected official,'' Fukuda reportedly told them.

The relevant Cabinet members including the construction and transport, farm and education ministers must take Fukuda's words seriously. They should speak out and take action not as mere mouthpieces of their own organizations, but as members of the Cabinet that is resolved to promote decentralization.

The first advisory report focuses on matters concerning the national highways currently under direct control of the central government and class one rivers whose entire stream flows within Tokyo or a single prefecture. In question is whether it is possible for the first advisory report to clearly state that management authority over those roads and rivers will be transferred from the central government to Tokyo and other prefectural governments.

In addition to the transfer of power from the central government to prefectural governments, similar delegation of authority by prefectural governments to municipal governments is important as well. The latter is aimed at increasing the degree of freedom action of administrative organizations, which are closer to local residents, by entrusting them with authority in a variety of areas, including giving permission and approval to establish welfare facilities and kindergartens, and manage personnel affairs involving public school teachers and and other employees as well as class composition.

The decentralization committee plans to compile the second advisory report at the end of this year--a review of local branches of central government organizations, an even higher hurdle to clear. It is essential to move ahead with the delegation of authority that has long been left unresolved to build momentum before tackling this future task.

(April 21)
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 21, 2008
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