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Tokyo: If you could be prime minister for a day, what would you do?

by Mark Buckton

Takanori Kai
Construction engineer, 31 (Japanese)
I’d make companies pay child-care allowance to all workers with children under 6. To boost the birthrate and make the work environment better for women, we should support companies that encourage workers to have children. We are facing an aging population, so it’s important that we make investments in the future.

Araminta Hammond
Decoupeur/teacher, “north of 38″ (American)
Fukushima! If we could go back in time, it would be great to initiate cooperation among the entities involved. The we-are-an-island, we-can-handle-this mentality, here and elsewhere, is not able to see the bigger picture. If a nation is offering help, take it, and pride be damned.

Kae Sato
Bar staff, 27 (Japanese)
Given the chance, I would cancel the consumption tax altogether — even if only for one day — because it would give a boost to the economy, and we would see an increase in purchases and spending by way of rush buying. Everyone would be happy and it would boost the economy for a day.

Maek Post
Editor of craft beer magazine, 42 (American)
If I were prime minister for a day, I’d make it easier for craft brewers to start their own brew pubs in Japan and I would legalize home brewing. Craft beer breweries just added $34 billion to the U.S. economy — imagine what it could do for Japan.

Stephannie Mozawa
English teacher, 24 (Japanese)
I would implement English as the means of education, starting from kindergarten. Next, I would prioritize the transition from nuclear power to safer renewable energy sources. Finally, I would increase the benefits for families to encourage couples to have more children.

Naomi Usami
Sales, 34 (Japanese)
I would like to remove the sales tax on beer, as it is far too expensive. If that is not possible, even as prime minister, I would like to use my authority for the day to authorize the importing of more world beers. That should make everyone happy.

Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? E-mail community@japantimes.co.jp

  • phu

    PM for a day may not be all that outrageous considering the short terms many have had in recent memory, but do people actually believe that the PM himself has the power to do… anything?

    I really wonder if the people answering this question understand the absurdity of it and are just playing along, or whether people realize it’d take you AND enough like-minded friends to replace more than half (or is it 2/3?) of both ‘representative’ bodies in order to actually get anything done in the face of opposition-for-its-own-sake that’s become common (not just in Japan, but certainly there as well).

    Then of course we have a gem like canceling the consumption tax… for a day. Never mind the insane logistics involved here, the potential for abuse and fraud is through the roof. I get that it’s a quick question intended to produce quick answers, but this is obviously something this person has thought about before… how could you fail to see the total irrationality of this idea? The permanent case is worse; a major source of government funding dries up because people don’t realize government spending also drives the economy (not to mention supporting the ever-increasing elderly population in Japan). Do this and other taxes will have to be raised or introduced — or government programs will have to be cut back or cut altogether — and guess who’s not going to want to make those concessions? The same people who wanted to get rid of the consumption tax.

    Then we’ve got another person throwing time travel into the mix, and two that aren’t really interested in anything but easy access to beer. I love beer too, guys, but really? This is what you can come up with in a hypothetical situation where you have the power to direct an entire nation (and one that has so many pressing issues)? Cheaper beer?!

    I hope this is just a poor selection of responses. If not, it doesn’t bode well for the future of Japan (or the intelligence of the expats there).