Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How the Government Should Act

What should the government be doing now? I've outlined the policies below. The policies I'm proposing here would be impossible for current Prime Minister Taro Aso to execute. They are in direct opposition to the policies of Democratic Party of Japan chief Ichiro Ozawa. Here are the emergency steps our politicians should be taking:

- Increase public spending and aggressively boost the monetary supply to counter the economic crisis and prevent bankruptcies.
- Aggressively convert Japan's financial policies to lower taxes and increase public works and social welfare spending.
- Introduce policies that push for full employment, then put real energy behind the effort with special emphasis on relief measures for the unemployed. Greatly increase the amount of public money used in this effort.
- Rebuild our social welfare system. The medical, nursing and pension systems have to be rebuilt after the structural revolution of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and its devotion to fiscal reconstruction left them in ruins. The medical system needs immediate attention.
- Increase grants to the provinces. Aim at reviving these regions, which were left moribund as a result of Koizumi's structural revolution.
- Aim to revive primary industries such as the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors by refocusing past policies that tended to ignore these vital sectors.
- Put more value on the environment by spending more public money on environmental preservation and regeneration.
- Put aside money to improve Japan's vital infrastructure — especially its ports and airports — to help trade, the circulation of goods and the country's reputation as a maritime state.
- Emphasize education. Switch from a centralized, bureaucratic model to one based on the creativity of the teachers.
- Focus on the wealth gap and emphasize egalitarian policies. Aim to eliminate the layer of working poor that has emerged.
- Don't participate in the war in Afghanistan. Be a nation of peace.

To execute these policies, we must take a different route than the ones recommended by Aso and Ozawa. To take that alternate route, we need to do three things: Overcome the influence of the neocons and market fundamentalism; extricate ourselves from the US-Japan alliance (where Japan follows the Americans' lead); come out against the Afghanistan war and confront those within the Liberal Democratic Party and the DPJ who continue to support the Americans on this.