Will the Next Elections Save Japanese Democracy
Why was last Sunday a sad day for Japanese democracy? Because it was demonstrated that a TV celebrity who also happens to be the prime minister of Japan managed to hijack the cause of reform, placed meaningful policy discussion out of bounds, and was given the opportunity to continue blocking the real repairs that Japan does need. Koizumi's achievement is amazing if you consider that genuine privatization of postal savings is unthinkable. We need to be very clear about this right away; what I write here is not controversial opinion, it is a reality anyone can see. The money collected by the post office has a peculiar function that is crucial in helping to keep the Japanese economy going through the zaisei yushishikin – which officials can treat as a "second budget". If you expose the huge amount of money involved to real market forces – which is what privatization means – Japan's financial system would collapse along with many of its agricultural institutions, and practically the entire construction sector would go bankrupt. Just one further detail: In combination, this fund, administered by Ministry of Finance officials, together with Japan Post itself, are the biggest holder of Japan Government Bonds, which helps to ensure that this form of government financing remains insulated from real – unreliable – market forces. The few who have immersed themselves in these details are not worried about the possibility of a calamity, seeing that as the legislation put forward by Koizumi is designed to be implemented in the dim future twelve years hence it does not begin to represent believable policy.