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  • Japan Times: ¥60 billion G8 Summit budget draws flak, amid social shortfalls

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 5th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  Doing some stuff this weekend near the Summit site, not sure if I’ll be able to access the Net, so meanwhile, here’s some important information on just how deep the rot goes when it comes to these Summits.  It’s not just a matter of the public being inconvenienced.  Their taxes are being raided for these events.

    I watched NHK’s special on the Summit last night (75 minutes’ worth), and got the lowdown on security (it’s the largest police presence ever assembled for a Summit, they said–10,000 bentos prepared every day, every meal).  But what I thought most interesting was the first 25 minutes spent on what the hotel’s service (particularly the food–this is Japan, natch) was going to be like for Summit attendees.  It’s not as though world leaders get enough privileges, after all.  But all I could do was drool at the amount of time and preparation being put into service (Carla Bruni likes Italian food, Sarcozy likes chocolate) and what looks to be wonderful delicacies (even the potatoes have been aged 4 months underground!).  

    Anyway, read on for more facts and figures.  And enjoy Mori’s caviar.  Debito in transit

    =================================

    G8 COUNTDOWN
    ¥60 billion G8 budget draws flak
    Although less than 2000 outlay, critics see amount as excessive amid social shortfalls
    Japan Times July 1, 2008
    By TAKAHIRO FUKADA Staff writer

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080701f1.html

    Japan plans to spend more than ¥60 billion in taxpayer money to host next week’s Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido and related events, prompting some to question if that sum could better be used to alleviate the national health-care and social welfare crises.

    The summit will be held in Toyako, Hokkaido, from Monday to July 9, when leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia plan to discuss the world economy, climate change, African development and other political issues, including nonproliferation.

    Japan last hosted the annual summit in 2000 in Kyushu and Okinawa.

    That and related events cost in excess of ¥80 billion, about ¥20 billion more than the budget for this year’s gatherings, said Kenichi Masamoto, a Foreign Ministry official in the G8 summit secretariat.

    “The previous (Japanese) summit was held for the first time in a provincial area. So we wanted no mistakes and tried to provide as much hospitality as possible,” Masamoto said. Before the Kyushu-Okinawa gathering, Japan hosted three summits, all in Tokyo.

    Masamoto admitted the Kyushu-Okinawa gathering drew public criticism about spending at a time when Japan’s economy was in a prolonged slump.

    During the leaders’ banquet hosted by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, they feasted on black Russian caviar, lobster from Bretagne, France, and Foie gras.

    Souvenirs were also given to the leaders, their wives and journalists.

    They included wine glasses with their names inscribed, clothing by famous designers, lacquer letter boxes, IC recorders and Licca-chan dolls.

    This time, the government hopes to stage a “compact” summit, Masamoto said.

    “We are trying as much as possible not to be wasteful,” he said.

    Of the ¥60 billion-plus to host the meetings, about ¥30 billion will be used by the National Police Agency for patrolling the venues, including taking counterterrorism measures, and about ¥25.5 billion will be spent by the Foreign Ministry.

    The Defense Ministry and Japan Coast Guard budgeted around ¥1 billion each for transporting the leaders and patrolling sea areas near the venue.

    The Foreign Ministry plans to spend around ¥9 billion on preparing the communications infrastructure between the summit venue in Toyako and Rusutsu, where the international media center will be located.

    The ministry budgeted around ¥5 billion for the media center, which is constructed on a parking lot in a ski resort and will accommodate around 3,000 people from the press and governments.

    Inside and outside the center, cutting-edge environmental technology, including fuel cells and heat pumps, will be exhibited.

    The center itself boasts eco-friendly features, including solar panels, “green” walls and a snow cooling system.

    Once the summit is over, however, the building will be demolished.

    “Originally, (the site) was a parking lot,” Masamoto said. “The summit is an unusual situation, and when the leaders gather, the world’s eyes will be on them and thousands of journalists will be on hand.

    “The building was constructed to handle this temporary, special demand. It will be removed when the event is over.”

    In Toyako, five working lunches and dinners are scheduled involving the G8 and other countries’ leaders. Masamoto declined to disclose how much has been budgeted for the meals, because they are still being coordinated.

    Japan again plans to pass out souvenirs to the leaders, their aides and the press, he said.

    Although Masamoto again refused to fully disclose the budget and planned gifts for the same reason, he said the government wants to give the leaders “something good with the theme of the environment and tradition.”

    Gifts being considered include writing implements for the leaders’ aides and chopsticks, “furoshiki” wrapping cloth and “uchiwa” fans for the press corps, he said.

    With the gifts, Masamoto said the government hopes the participants and media learn about Japan, Hokkaido and the environment.

    Toshio Nagahisa, an executive director at think tank PHP Research Institute specializing in political science, said that although the expenditures for hosting the gatherings must be streamlined, they are necessary outlays.

    “The important thing is that the money must be spent to ensure problems do not occur at the meetings,” Nagahisa said. “It is also very important to guarantee the leaders’ safety.”

    One expert meanwhile opined that too much public money was being spent just to host the event.

    “Why does Japan have to continue being a friend of the advanced countries to this extent?” asked Toshimaru Ogura, a political economy professor at the University of Toyama critical of the annual G8 gathering.

    “With the tight fiscal situation stemming from Japan’s aging society, I wonder if (taxpayers) really support spending ¥60 billion over just a few days’ time.

    “That ¥60 billion could instead go toward strengthening the manpower of the Social Insurance Agency and coping with various ongoing medical-care and social security issues,” Ogura pointed out.

    The Foreign Ministry said it has no comparable data of other countries’ budgets for past G8 meetings.

    But according to the British government’s Web site, the U.K. budgeted about £12.1 million, or around ¥2.6 billion in present value, for the 2005 summit it hosted in Gleneagles, Scotland.

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 1, 2008
    ENDS

    9 Responses to “Japan Times: ¥60 billion G8 Summit budget draws flak, amid social shortfalls”

    1. Pages tagged "comparable" Says:

      [...] bookmarks tagged comparableMeet people everywhere in the world at FICGS. Japan Times: ¥60 billion G8 Summit budget draws f… saved by 2 others     hawkstrikefalcon bookmarked on 07/04/08 | [...]

    2. snowman Says:

      yes, what a criminal waste of money this is. I am in Sapporo at the moment on a business trip. I thought there had been a coup d’etat or revolution at first! Cops and cop vehicles absolutely everywhere. Just so bush and co can have some nice meals and come to no conclusions. Totally agree with you Debito about having a video conference. But would our”leaders” go for that??

    3. chris Says:

      Interesting to see the mainstream Japanese media (Asahi Shinbun) even picking up on the excessive crackdown that NJ (and melons!) are having to go through:

      http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0705/TKY200807050123.html

      外国人もメロンもカニも…サミット警戒で「足止め」

      2008年7月5日15時1分印刷ソーシャルブックマーク

       世界各国の首脳を迎え、7日に開幕する北海道洞爺湖サミットの厳戒態勢で、各地に様々な影響が出ている。成田空港での入国審査で外国人が足止めされたり、新千歳空港では夕張メロンや活ガニの配送が遅れたり。振り回される人たちからは、批判や嘆きの声が出ている。

      ◆滞在日程の短縮も

       成田空港から入国する外国人のなかに、長時間にわたって入国審査を受けたり、滞在日程を短縮させられたりするケースが出ている。

       法務省入国管理局は3月から、サミットに向けて入国審査の態勢を強化した。人員を増やし、点検項目も増やした。法務省幹部は「強化態勢になっていることから、審査に時間がかかり、足止め状態が増えているかもしれない」と、普段より時間がかかっていることを認めている。

       市民記者らでつくる「G8メディアネットワーク」(本部・東京)によると、サミットに否定的なシンポジウムに参加を予定していたフリージャーナリストの米国人は6月27日午前10時半ごろに同空港に到着し、午後8時ごろまで目的や滞在予定などを調べられた。サミット後までの滞在予定を4日までに短縮され、航空券も変更させられた。

       同26日に到着した英市民記者2人も約13時間の入国審査を受け、滞在を4日までに短縮。香港の市民記者3人は同日午後8時過ぎから翌27日午後1時半ごろまで、審査を受け、デモへの参加予定などを尋ねられたという。

       同ネットは札幌市の協力を得て情報発信の場を目指す「市民メディアセンター」の設置などに力を入れてきた。同ネットの平澤剛共同代表は「多様な意見を認めることが民主国家の大前提。言論や表現の自由への国家による弾圧と認識している」と語った。

       東京入国管理局成田空港支局は「入国希望者への入国のための審査であり、時間がかかることもある。確認が取れた期間しか滞在させられない」と説明している。(田村剛、市川美亜子)

      ◆出荷の最盛期なのに

       北海道のお中元商品の目玉である夕張メロンや活ガニの配送が滞っている。サミットの関係で新千歳空港の荷物検査が強化され、普段より配送時間がかかり、売りである鮮度が保てないからだ。「出荷の最盛期なのに……」。メロン農家や市場関係者から恨み節が漏れる。(杉崎慎弥)

       「東京など本州への発送はお断りしています」。夕張メロンについて、札幌市にある百貨店内の青果店は11日まで、こんな対応をとる。

       一般的なメロンと違い、とろけるような果肉が特徴の夕張メロンは、出荷翌日が食べ頃。ところが、新千歳空港ではサミット前後の荷物検査の強化で、通常なら翌日に東京などに届く荷物の発送が遅れ、普段通りに出荷すると、到着時には熟しすぎ、中身がぐちゃぐちゃになってしまう可能性が高くなっている。同店の社長は「夕張メロンは本州への発送が9割。ダメージは大きい」と話す。

       産地のJA夕張市によると、道外への出荷は今がピーク。出荷数1日平均約4万5千玉のうち、道外向けが半数以上を占める。出荷のスピードアップのため、5日からブランド認定検査の開始を1時間早めたが、効果は不明だ。

       一方、札幌市の場外市場の店舗では、観光客らに毛ガニやタラバガニなどの活ガニを発送する時期をサミット後にずらすことを勧めている。東京向けの商品は通常、発送翌日に着くが、今は1〜2日遅れる可能性が高いからだ。

       インターネットによる予約販売で、今の時期の発送注文を受けていた顧客には、電話で遅れる可能性があることを伝えているという。担当者は「早くサミットが終わってほしい」と願っていた。(杉崎慎弥)

    4. MD Says:

      “prompting some to question if that sum could better be used to alleviate the national health-care and social welfare crises.”

      This is the saddest part of it all, I think. Not that the Jiyu-Minshuto has a history of caring about poor people, to be sure. I still can’t believe the amount of homeless people we can see in places like Ueno park. And with the widening gap between rich and poor we’ve got politicians with the guts to say that there’s no problem with rewarding people for working hard (translation: who cares about the poor as long as the rich are happy)

      And then they spend ridiculous amounts of money for this summit farce. Unbelievable.

    5. James N Says:

      御金が本當に勿体無い!!My friend who lives in Sapporo just sent me a video taken from his cell of demonstrations going on right now up there. I wonder if it is due to the high cost of this good ole boys meeting. Hypocrisy knows no bounds…

    6. Level3 Says:

      Now I would feel even less guilty about lying on my Japanese tax forms about under the table pay, if I were to do such a thing, not that I’m saying I do. ;)

      Any world leader or staffer who wants to maintain a healthy weight can’t possibly eat every single gourmet item laid out before them. If the food bill were 1 billion yen, it’s a virtual guarante that 500 million of foie gras, lobster, and Kobe beef will end up in the trash.

      I’d say this is another nail in the coffin of the LDP, except I don’t think there’s any bare wood left, it’s all nails.

    7. Dirk Says:

      The last summit in Heiligendamm in my home country wasted 16,7 billion yen. The effects for the world were very little.

      What kind of result will justify the 60 billion yen of this Hokkaido summit ?

      What will happen if the GoJ organizes a video conferece instead and gives this money in form of micro-credits to non-developed countries ?

    8. Max Says:

      Shinjuku is really packed with policemen everyday. PACKED.
      Almost all of them have their batons out.
      I’ve never seen so many in all the time that I’ve been living here.

      By the way, there are many road check points from morning to evening both
      coming in and going out of Shinjuku (Yasukuni Doori, Shinjuku Doori….).
      There are at least 6-8 policemen at each road block, forming a long stretched line
      long like 10 metres. They stop anything, including taxis.

      I wonder….what does Tokyo have to do with Toyako and the G-8 ?
      Or is it because of the Akihabara rampage ?
      Or both ?

      When we had Bush in Rome the government completely closed off a part of the city
      (only for the days he was there of course !!)and
      the security measures were almost too much BUT of course we didn’t have thousands of
      policemen spread out in ALL the other major cities like we were in North Korea and NOT Italy…..

      Walking in Tokyo lately makes me feel less secure, not because of some obscure terrorist
      menace, but more because it makes me feel like I’m living in a military nation under dictature.
      It reminds me of the movie “V for vendetta”….lol.

      21.000 policemen in Toyako…….what the hell is this government thinking ??
      21.000……..21.000 !!!

      What an abnormous waste of resources.

    9. okinawa times Says:

      [...] in taxpayer money to host next week??s Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido and related events, phttp://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=1780Fabric of America – Lee&39s Summit JournalJohn now, barely 17 years old, was shipped overseas to [...]

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