So the LDP, with the Komeito chiming in, have reached a compromise on the road money (Asahi Shinbun; Yomiuri is far more ambiguous). For the time being. It's not pretty, and the media are venting. But it looks like the DPJ is taking a de facto pass on this one too. Though for once I can't blame them; this is one issue on which anything you do to change the status quo to help one part of your constituency will hurt the others. Popular rule is never good at delivering the greater good, though it's usually good at avoiding the greater bad. (Except when then greater good is incompatible with the little good. I'll get to that later on this blog.)
In any case, this is not an issue that will go away, since it's part of a bigger whole that will determine Shinzo Abe's place in history and, more importantly, whether he serves out the full six years.
I could try to go on about this difficult choice, but why bother? Shisaku has already covered it in lengthy, oops, sorry, eloquent detail already, and I have nothing to add to that. So why bother? Instead, I'll do a cyber-sidebar to his headliner:
Okay, so we stop the cash flow; what happens? You've got a lot of ugly coastlines, river shores, useless bridges and whatnot on the one hand; and a lot of angry, jobless, workless people, businesses, and communities on the other. And then on the third hand (which we will evolve after another million years of buffet dinners), there's lot of money. Don't you think it makes sense to put the three together in a massive, multi-year program to restore the seacoasts, the river shores, etc. to its original pristine state? I mean, if the construction work's not doing any good and there's a need to spread the money around… It's not like this is an unfamiliar concept; the mining industry does this kind of cleanup work all the time. In fact, I can see a whole new way of thinking about public works, and it will be taught in those newly spawned public adminstration graduate schools all around Japan; call it: Deconstruction Theory 101.
But do we really need the construction firms to spread the money around? Why not skip the middleman altogether and go directly to the people? Why not pay them to live in the boondocks? That way, some of those roads and bridges may turn out be useful after all, and you won't have to take them out. Doesn't bribing people, instead of businesses, to come put the choice in the hands of the individual; which is Mr. Abe's point in the first place, right? And don't tell me you haven't heard this story before, because this was what South Korea had been into with the Northern refugees until it went into Sunshine Policy mode; and Israel has been doing it on a nationwide scale since I don't know when.