On Nov. 7, an annual ritual of government occurred: The Board of Audit delivered its report on the results of its audit of government accounts for the previous fiscal year (April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016) to the Cabinet. The 1,123-page paper brick handed over to His Abe-ness identified billions of yen's worth of improper expenditures or accounting and trillions of yen's worth of things that could be done more efficiently. On Nov. 18 the Cabinet submitted the report to the Diet, and perhaps sometime next summer the legislature will debate what it all means.

The misuse or waste of funds identified by the BOA in specific contexts provides a steady source of news stories ("Billions of yen wasted in Fukushima No. 1 cleanup" is an example from a March 24, 2015, JT headline), yet there is a greater whole that often gets missed.

The Board of Audit and the process of managing national finances takes place within a sphere of constitutional law that some scholars might call "The Boring Parts." Nattering on about freedom of speech is all good fun — sexy even — but at the end of the day somebody has to keep the street corners where social activists do their hectoring paved and lighted. Depressingly, it seems that constitutional laws — just like just about every other type of law — are frequently about money.