Rapid decentralization of government urged

The government should swiftly move as many of its functions to local governments as possible to increase the efficiency of administrative services and reduce fiscal deficits, a business executive said Jan. 29.Ken Moroi, adviser to Chichibu Onoda Cement Corp. and head of the government advisory panel on the transfer of power from the central government to local governments, said the purpose of such a transfer is to bring decision-making closer to the people. “The people should be able to monitor and participate in administration,” Moroi said at a seminar in Tokyo. “Now is not the time for the public sector to decide everything.”Last month, Moroi’s committee submitted to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto a proposal to abolish a system in which the central government decides on the tasks to give to prefectural governors. Such tasks are nearly 80 percent of a prefectural government’s work, which virtually takes their autonomy away, according to Moroi.Some people doubt whether the transfer of power to local governments is really possible in light of the strong opposition from workers’ labor unions in the public sector and from the so-called “zoku-giin” — Diet members who lobby government ministries for the benefit of particular interest groups.