Capital move talks shelved till 2003

The Cabinet confirmed June 6 that discussions on moving the capital to a site outside Tokyo will be shelved until 2003 or later as a way to help end the state budget crisis, Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama said June 6.

According to Kajiyama, National Land Agency chief Kosuke Ito told the day’s Cabinet meeting that discussions on relocating the capital have been under way for more than six years since the Diet adopted a resolution for the move, and that relocating the capital is important to ease the heavy concentration of government functions in Tokyo. But since the government decided to work intensely on fiscal reform in the period between 1998 and 2003, the government “will not inject its money for projects needed for relocating capital functions during that period,” Kajiyama quoted Ito as telling the ministers.

The government earlier this week announced a package of steps that will help realize its self-imposed target of slashing the nation’s deficit to 3 percent or less of gross domestic product by 2003. A government advisory panel recommended in December 1995 that functions including administrative, political and judicial operations should be transferred to outside Tokyo.

The panel called on the government to decide on a site for the new capital by the end of 1998 so the Diet could hold its first session there in 2010. Purchases of huge tracts of land on which to build the new capital were originally scheduled to start in 2001. This process will now be delayed for at least two years. It is predicted that relocation of the capital functions would cost as much as 15 trillion yen, and so the government was forced to give up early establishment of a new capital.