Kagoshima pares bureaucrats, adds residents to parry China junket claims

Kyodo

Responding to criticism over wasteful spending, Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito said Wednesday he would include about 300 prefectural residents in his plan to dispatch 1,000 officials to Shanghai for training for the sake of maintaining the city of Kagoshima’s Shanghai flight route, which has seen a large decline in passengers.

“Maintaining the flight service, which brings ripple effects from the Chinese economy (to Kagoshima), is indispensable to the growth and development of prefecture,” Ito told the prefectural assembly. “Based on the opinions that residents should also be able to participate in the program, I want them to visit Shanghai.”

The governor’s office initially announced the decision on May 29 to dispatch 1,000 prefectural officials, including 500 administrative officers and 500 teachers to Shanghai for a four-day tour of Japanese schools and government offices as early as next month at a cost of ¥118 million.

The expenses were included in the extra budget the prefecture drafted in June.

But the proposal to use taxpayer money for that purpose was harshly criticized, prompting Ito to revise the plan, reducing the bureaucrats by 300 and adding the same number of local citizens.

Kagoshima also plans to dispatch 100 youngsters in a separate program.

The original proposal also covered the cost of issuing passports, but the prefecture withdrew that plan.

China Eastern Airlines, which offers two round-trips per week, has seen passenger numbers fall amid soured Sino-Japanese ties an outbreak of avian flu in China.