Japanese local-level government auditing faces reforms to end conflicts of interest

JIJI

The internal affairs ministry plans to overhaul the system for auditing local governments’ uses of state subsidies, it was learned Wednesday.

The ministry intends to have a panel of experts propose concrete improvements this year and seek revised laws, sources said.

Inspections by the Board of Audit of Japan in 2008-2010 determined that state subsidies were used for unintended purposes at all 47 prefectural governments as well as 18 designated big cities, with over ¥5 billion in such funds misappropriated.

Such misconduct should have been identified by the local government-level auditors, but because they are made up of local-level assembly members and experts, appointed by local government heads, their actual independence is in doubt.

The ministry panel is expected to discuss various reforms, including that auditors be appointed by assemblies and not include any members of such bodies, unlike the current situation, in which many prefectures and municipalities consider such postings as honorary, the sources said.

Also on the agenda may be better compensation and other measures for long-time auditor secretariat workers, who face frequent job changes at the local government level, according to the sources.