Aso’s new wheeze: Teigaku Kyuufukin. Bribe voters as “economic stimulus”. Might not include NJ, though.


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Hi Blog. Here’s a post from another friend (anonymized as XYZ) regarding PM Aso’s new wheeze: the “teigaku kyuufukin”.  Get people more positively predisposed towards the LDP by putting money in their pockets (as in, not to get too technical about it, a bribe). According to NHK, that means anyone over the age of fifteen and under 65 gets 12,000 yen in their pockets, and anyone under 15 and over 65 gets 8000 yen.  Wonderful stimulus package, like the LDP’s wheeze some years ago which IIRC gave something like 10,000 yen per household as coupons (which did nothing to boost GDP in the end, and just increased the national debt).  Except that back then, foreigners could not qualify as coupon receivers (as NJ are not, again, officially-registered residents — they’re just taxed like residents).

This time around, NHK and others have been debating whether NJ deserve to be bribed (after all, they can’t vote; but neither can people under 20 and they qualify).  I guess the fact that any discussion of it is happening is an improvement over the last round of bribes.  But the assumption that NJ don’t really count is once again disconcerting.  Read on for XYZ’s read.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hello Debito,

I assume you have been following the news about the LDP’s proposals to shower money on Japan, ostensibly as an economic stimulus measure, and doubtless to buy voter sentiment in advance of the Lower House election that must be held by September 2009.

Until recently, the discussion was a typical “bread and circuses” policy of the LDP. However, unlike the 2003 plan that distributed shopping vouchers to all registered residents who met certain conditions, the LDP has started to talk of limiting distributions to permanent resident foreigners. If the handout is an economic policy, this makes no sense, since foreigners as well as Japanese patronize Japanese shops, and a foreigner with Y100 yen in her pocket is as valuable to the shopkeeper as a Japanese with Y100 in his pocket.

Of course, one cannot expect Japan to give every tourist money as they deplane, and Aso’s policies may never pass money even to Japanese citizens, but until recently the talk was of distribution to all taxpayers, or households, without a nationality element.

There is one school of thought that suggests that the LDP may actually be trying to court permanent residents in preparation for their being given some kind of vote, but predictably suggesting that foreigners receive even 1 yen brings out the “Japan for the Japanese only” voices that would have been clueless if the Aso administration had just rammed through the legislation and quietly distributed the money to taxpayers.

Presumably, foreign taxpayers who fall short of permanent residence will still be entitled to deductions for housing loans or tax rate reductions.

Here is the only report I could find in print; I heard the report on the television originally. Regards, XYZ, November 6, 2008



毎日新聞 2008年11月8日 東京朝刊


13 comments on “Aso’s new wheeze: Teigaku Kyuufukin. Bribe voters as “economic stimulus”. Might not include NJ, though.

  • Just a minor point, but the 8000 yen for over 65’s and under 18’s is in addition to the 12000 yen (i.e. 20000 yen)

    — Right, thanks!

  • These economic stimulus packages are a joke – they simply don’t work. Not only do they suck money away from the government, but politicians mistakenly believe that if people have money, they will spend it – even in an economic crunch. Tax payers need to understand that money sent to the government via taxes should be used to maintain vital infrastructure; they should also make sure that politicians don’t waste our tax money.

    That being said, a similar problem happened in the US as well this past year. Taxpayers were supposed to get $600 if single and $1200 if married ($300 for children), but since a social security number was required to get the rebate those individuals with only a tax ID number were excluded.

    This exemption included all:
    1) H-1B work visa holders
    2) legal immigrants

    The worst part of the US program was that if a couple filed their taxes jointly and the spouse didn’t have a SSN, the couple was ineligible for the money. This meant that all military families living overseas where one spouse was a foreign national were excluded. The couples could have filed separately, but the tax deductions for being married outweighed the rebate. The military situation was apparently fixed, but the other taxpayers with only a TID were left in the dark.

    Rather than fighting over this money like a bunch of dogs, we should be telling the government to hold the money and put it to better use. Even an automatic tax deduction would be better than cash handouts.

    — Ah, but you see, a bribe is more overt, and, the thinking no doubt runs, will accrue support to the LDP come voting time. Maybe Aso should remove his mask and find Suzuki Muneo (who made the same promises during his election campaigns in Hokkaido; they worked, he got elected) underneath.

  • “anyone under 15 and over 65 gets 8000 yen.”

    You see, that’s is the brilliance of Aso’s plan right there. Nobody is under 15 and also over 65, so that part of the stimulus will cost nothing!

    — Arf arf!

  • icarus,

    the situation in the us was still a little bit different from what you make out(though no less unacceptable).foreign workers in the us were eligible for the benefit.however if they were married to someone who did not have eligibility to work (thus no soc sec number-even though they were there legally) they couldnt file jointly(making it pointless filing)
    both americans and non americans got shafted.(it was done this way to stop illegal immigrants benefitting .obv the fact that they fixed it for american military married to foreigners overseas and not the legal immigrants is upsetting as well.

  • The original suggestion for this was a teigaku-genzei, a certain amount knocked off your taxes. This was changed to a kyuufukin to make sure nobody missed out because they were unemployed or elderly. Let’s hope this attempt to include one group does not end up discluding another (tax-paying non permanent NJs).

  • Hi Debito,

    when the coupons were showered upon us, we (me – gaijin -, then-wife & 2 kids – Japanese citizens) got ourselves the whole amount. Can’t remember how much it was, but I remember that I didn’t even have PR.

    I’d have preferred the fixed rate tax reduction – it would have been deducted when I file my tax return, at no administrative cost at all. Now just think about how much it’ll cost in terms of manpower, funded courtesy of all taxpayers, Japanese or not…

    As if 12000 yen were going to make a difference… We spent our coupons on groceries & stashed away the saved cash then, and I’ll do the same this time – if I get lucky and receive the money in the first place… 😉

    — That’s odd. I remember friends NOT getting a coupon — and they DID have PR…

  • Part of a Q&A with Prime Minister Aso. It looks like the thought of foreigners being tax payers didn’t even occur to him:







    — Need a link for this as a source.

  • Grant Mahood says:

    12000 yen is a token amount (bordering on insulting) to hard-working, tax-paying people across the country. If the government wants to show its support it would spend less of our money and take less of it away to begin with. Spending cuts and tax cuts would be the shot in the arm that people need to know that their government is with them, spending cuts beginning with the real pork-barrel stuff, and we know that there is plenty of it out there.

    To offer a little of our own back to us and expecting us to be grateful is just awful. And from what is being said in the media, there really isn’t much of a plan to get it done, anyway, making the whole situation even worse. It makes one wish that this handout plan had never been conceived (such as it has) to begin with.

  • Don’t know about any 2003 stimulus package (I was married then and didn’t get anything), but The Japan Times’ article yesterday says there was a plan in 1999 that offered the coupons.

    Permanent residents were included then, as were the zainichi.

    Ruling bloc OKs ¥2 trillion boost
    Unclear whether foreign residents qualify for cash handout program

  • Let’s do a quick calculation.
    In Yokohama, reportedly 1.55m households qualify.
    If the money is paid via bank transfer (and it looks that way), this would mean around 300m yen in bank fees, if you remit @ 200 yen a pop. And that’s just Yokohama…

    Fixed-rate tax deduction would cost how much??

    Any ideas how to more efficiently waste tax-payers’ money?? Except the usual wining and dining of politicians and construction company execs in hosh posh ryouteis, that is… 😉

  • People do not jump on this wagon. They will find out this way who pays all taxes and who don`t. There was program on JTV morning and Japanese are unhappy either, the same with media. Japanese are concerned again about their privacy and I agree with them. GoJ is thinking to give this order to City Halls to handle. I think it will bring again many scams towards old people who lives in country side and cannot or have to far to get to Ward Office. Probably one will have to go to City Hall, answer a few questions (promised it takes no longer than 5 min) and then will get a money transferred to account. Bullshit! They want to screen everyone. I don@t care about only 12,000yen and my wife either. Does this make difference in my life? Nope! There are many people in need in this country, maternity is expensive, social security is dying, but not this is important for Aso…he knows what Japanese loves…MONEY! Just buy them for election. I spoke with a few Japanese and they said that they don@t care who will be next PM, because it is not going to change anything in this country. The thing is that J people never protest like in Europe or even in S.Korea. It`s a pity they are like a lame doing what they ask to do. Good luck with 12,000yen bribe


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