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


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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


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


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

9 comments on “Japan Times: ¥60 billion G8 Summit budget draws flak, amid social shortfalls

  • 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??

  • 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:



















  • “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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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 ?

  • 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.

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