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  • Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, also still unclear if NJ get handout

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 23rd, 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.  It’s getting clearer to me that PM Aso’s “economic stimulus package” of cash back to citizens is nothing more than a bribe to voters.  Yes, to voters.  Again, as the plan nears approval, it’s still unclear whether NJ residents also get any money.  However, it’s pretty clear why this fence sitting:  NJ can’t vote, so they don’t count.  Even though they spend money like citizens, so they should count.  

    Thus this is not an economic stimulus package (which would naturally and unequivocally include everyone in Japan who spends money).  It’s a political stimulus, to popularity polls for the LDP.  Because as critics point out below, it’s unclear that it’ll have any economic effect at all.  It didn’t before.

    So let’s not fall for the guise of economics anymore.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

    Cash handout finding few fans

    Local leaders say the economy needs a government stimulus plan with greater focus

    By REIJI YOSHIDA, Staff writer
    The Japan Times Monday, Nov. 17, 2008
       

    In 1999, the coalition government was bashed for what was dubbed “one of the silliest policy measures of the century.”

    Is the current government ready to repeat that blunder as early as this year or early next year?

    The answer is probably yes, according to numerous governors and mayors across the country as well as most commentators.

    Criticism for a planned ¥2 trillion cash handout program, formally decided by the government led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on Wednesday, hasn’t ceased over the weekend, reviving the memory of the 1999 coupon program that cost ¥700 billion but had little benefit for the economy.

    Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, appearing on a TV news program Saturday, waved a ¥10,000 bill before the camera and argued that the government should not be scattering cash around among people with no strategic economic focus.

    “The previous coupon handout program boosted the individual consumption portion of gross domestic product by only 0.1 percent. The Economic Planing Agency admitted that it had little economic effect,” Matsuzawa pointed out.

    Dozens of governors and mayors similarly have called on the government to spend that amount of money, if ever it will, with a clear strategic focus.

    “(The government ) will spend ¥2 trillion, which is equal to the budget of the Tottori Prefectural Government for five years. I cannot even visualize that amount of money,” Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai said Thursday.

    Under the program announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso, the government plans to distribute ¥12,000 to every citizen, plus an additional ¥8,000 for each child 18 or younger and elderly person 65 or older. Whether foreigners will be covered has not been decided yet.

    The handouts are supposed to total ¥2 trillion, nearly three times as much as the notorious coupon program.

    Analysts say the handouts are as unlikely as the 1999 coupons to spark a consumption boom, because people probably won’t spend much amid the global financial crisis and a looming rise in the unpopular consumption tax, which Aso said may be increased in three years.

    Even government economists agree. Kaoru Yosano, economic and fiscal policy minister, revealed at a news conference Oct. 31. that the Cabinet Office estimated that doling out ¥2 trillion in cash will boost total GDP by only 0.1 percent.

    What particularly astounded local government leaders was Aso’s decision to let municipalities decide whether to put an income cap on applicants so people making a lot of money would not be eligible.

    Mayors worry about chaos at their municipal offices as thousands of people are expected to rush to apply for the handout in a short period of time, and local officials would have a giant task checking the annual income levels of applicants.

    Norihisa Satake, mayor of Akita and head of the national association of mayors, argued that it’s simply impossible for city offices to handle all the clerical work.

    “If 137,000 households (in Akita) come to City Hall over two weeks, about 10,000 people will come a day,” said Satake, adding the building only has parking for 400 automobiles.

    The central government reportedly hopes to start handing out the cash after having a second supplementary budget enacted by the Diet in March.

    But March is also the time when workers at municipal offices are extremely busy as the fiscal year ends later in the month.

    “Even if we stop all the (other) work, we would not be able to handle (the applications). Do Diet members understand the reality of this?” Satake asked at a news conference in Akita last week, according to minutes of the conference posted on the city’s Web site.

    ENDS

     

     

     

     

    12 Responses to “Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, also still unclear if NJ get handout”

    1. Massimo Says:

      I think that if we (nj) taxpayers get excluded from this plan (not that I really want this money…..and I would prefer it to be used on something really useful)we should REFUSE to pay taxes until we get included. It is time to stop being second class citizens. We have all duties without any benefit.

    2. TJJ Says:

      I don’t think it’s going to be a surprise to anyone that NJ will not be on the receiving end of any handout. In fact I would be stunned if we were included. Could you imagine how much flak the government would get for “giving free money to foreigners who could just leave the country”. Perhaps we’d all use it to secretly fund Nth Korea or terrorist groups?

    3. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      What a disgrace. Even if it could be shown that a plan like this could be effective — and previous evidence shows that it isn’t — it could be done cheaply and fairly by simply issuing a tax rebate.

      Even non-taxpayers such as children could be handled through the main householder who claims them as dependents. (Or were they actually planning to hand cash bills to infants?)

      How about Japanese people living abroad? Do they get money, despite not paying taxes to the Japanese government? If they’re eligible, it makes this program that much more of a vote-buying farce.

    4. Asterisk Says:

      If so-called free money is given to foreigners, it reduces the gain that comes from all that heavy negotiation. The idea is to negotiate and bicker for advantage. And giving back what was gained, that just spoils it.

      Giving back what was won is something foreigners do.

    5. AWK Says:

      >But March is also the time when workers at municipal offices are extremely busy as the fiscal year ends later in the month.<

      Exactly and as they say on JTV, it will cost more than what they want to give away because someone has to pay overtime to City Hall officials who will handle this. By the way, make them busy so they won`t send me reminders about taxes :) Not included foreigners don@t need to go there to get it, so as paying.

    6. debito Says:

      Debito here. One thing a friend told me today was that if they really want to stimulate the economy effectively and equitably, how about dropping the Consumption Tax (at 5%) to zero for one full month?

      That way, anyone who spends money will get a tax rebate. And it will definitely stimulate consumption, since we had that month’s tax holiday from “temporary gasoline taxes” in April, and drivers rushed to the pumps to take advantage.

      A consumption tax holiday doesn’t involve high administration costs, registering people to get their rebate, or even separate consumers by nationality.

      Is it so hard for people in government to come up with a wheeze as simple as this? Debito in Sapporo

    7. bobby12 Says:

      I hope Aso flies across Japan on a hot air balloon dropping 1man yen bills on everyone.

    8. Sean Says:

      The average joe would probably head straight for the local pachinko parlour, lose, and all the profit will be sent across the Sea of Japan to prop up the N.K. regime.

    9. Drew Says:

      I don’t think it’s going to be a surprise to anyone that NJ will not be on the receiving end of any handout.

      This is annoying, as I pay hundreds of thousands of yen every year into a pension system that I am not going to be in this country long enough to withdraw from…

    10. 2kyu Says:

      Drew, in case you don’t know you can get a refund for the first three years of payments.

    11. Drew Says:

      2kyu: Yep, I did know that.. I passed the 3 year barrier quite some time ago, so now I’m just flushing money down the toilet.

    12. AWK Says:

      >Debito here. One thing a friend told me today was that if they really want to stimulate the economy effectively and equitably, how about dropping the Consumption Tax (at 5%) to zero for one full month?<

      Exactly, Japan should take example from UK. See link below. Sad, but true is GoJ prefer to take from our taxes paid by NJ and give away to ONLY JAPANESE

      http://euobserver.com/9/27164

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