The recent reports on accusations that monies designated for tsunami reconstruction have been misspent should not come as a shock. But what is really more shocking is the Japanese media’s previous indifference to the story.
I say we should be shocked, but should we really? A Japanese press that has been unwilling, except in some exceptional circumstances, to question its government on the issue of whaling policy, may not be willing to rock the boat on other matters either.
Its seems that projects financed by the $150bn (£93bn) fund include an ad campaign for Japan’s tallest building and support for whaling so-called ‘research’.
But why has the government taken such a position? it seems that the pork-barrel of Japanese politics is coming home to roost.
Among the expenses listed are $30 million dollars for Japan’s yearly whale hunt, $380,000 to promote Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest free-standing broadcast tower, free training for fighter pilots and a subsidy for a contact-lens factory located nowhere near the site of the disaster-hit coast.
At first the initial audit report was ‘largely ignored by the Japanese media, as clientelism – the allocation of budget money to those with close ties, often in exchange for political support, is not unusual in the country’s politics.’ reports rt.com
“Exploiting the construction effort is treacherous to the first degree,” proclaimed a Tokyo Shimbun editorial.
Rt.com goes onto note that Yoshimitsu Shiozaki, an academic specializing in urban planning at Kobe University, who has conducted his own survey of the spending, believes that little will be done to reverse the spending priorities. “But this time the funds are being used in a more deceptive way,” said Shiozaki.
Its a mark of a countries democracy that the public and media can hold their government’s to account.
The Japanese people must begin to question why a stagnant and costly industry such as whaling that benefits so few is receiving such preferential treatment, whilst millions of people are still suffering from the recent disasters? Who in government and the civil service is benefiting and who has their finger on the bank account?