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Mori calls Koizumi's reform plan 'historic misgovernment'.

TOKYO, Oct. 20 Kyodo

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Wednesday called Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's fiscal reform drive ''historic misgovernment'' in an interview with Kyodo News.

Mori criticized Koizumi over his three-pillar fiscal reform plan, involving state subsidies, the allocation of central government revenues to local governments, and the sharing of the central government's authority to collect taxes and his request that local governments first come up with some ideas on the reform plan.

Koizumi wants to revamp Japan's fiscal structure under his three-pillar fiscal reform drive.

''It was wrong (for the prime minister) to let the local governments voice their specific ideas on the reform plan,'' Mori said, before any plan came out from the central government or the ruling parties.

The report, compiled by six major local governmental bodies and submitted to Koizumi in August, called for a 3.2 trillion yen cut in national subsidies through fiscal 2006 in exchange for giving local governments the authority to collect 3 trillion yen in tax revenue sources.

The proposed cuts include 850 billion yen in the state-funded compulsory education program for junior high schools, mainly salaries for teachers, along with those to finance public works projects and social security programs.

The six local governmental bodies include the National Governors' Association, the Japan Association of City Mayors, and the National Association of Towns and Villages.

The government set up a panel for representatives from the central and local governments to discuss specific plans in which the local representatives asked the government to come up with alternative proposal if it is opposed to the local governments' plan.

But Mori said, referring to the cuts in the state-funded education program for junior high schools proposed in the report, ''The Education Ministry should refuse to propose alternative plan.''

''The content of the compulsory education program should not differ with each prefecture,'' Mori said.

''I think the phrase 'the 100 sacks of rice' the prime minister used in his inaugural speech was meant as sacrificing today for a better education in the future, but what he is doing now is quite the opposite,'' Mori added.

In his inaugural speech to the Diet on May 7, 2001, Koizumi said, ''The spirit of the 100 sacks of rice -- sacrificing today for a better tomorrow -- is exactly what we need now to march ahead with reform.''

Koizumi referred in the speech to an incident in 1870 in which a leader of the Nagaoka clan in what is now Niigata Prefecture refused to distribute 100 sacks of rice to his starving clansmen and instead sold them off to build a school.

He said many of the governors or vice governors are former officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, formerly the Ministry of Home Affairs, and said it is as if the plan is being hatched and acted on by the ministry, adding that such a plan is not worth trying.

He had earlier criticized the plan, saying that Japan's education program is being discussed by those who are not experts in education administration.

Referring to the political style of Koizumi, who is also the head of the LDP, Mori said, ''I wonder if he is being too eager or frustrated. It seems like he does not trust the LDP, but if he attaches importance to the next two years through to the end of his term of office, he should act more humbly.''
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Oct 25, 2004
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