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JIJI

In a first, the Cultural Affairs Agency will be moving to Kyoto in a few years as part of a dual policy to revitalize regional economies and address the over-concentration of government offices in Tokyo.

In its decision Tuesday, the government also said it will determine by the end of August whether to send the Consumer Affairs Agency and the internal affairs ministry’s statistics bureau westward as well, and that relocation for the Tourism and three other agencies had been ruled out.

“This is a big step toward revitalizing local areas,” Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada said at a news conference about the decision. The move signals that “Kyoto is recognized as the center of Japan’s cultural network,” Yamada said.

In what will be the first major relocation of a Tokyo-based government organization, the government is hoping that its initiative to spread out the bureaucracy will prompt businesses to move their headquarters out of crowded Tokyo, bringing jobs to areas with weaker economies.

But most ministries and agencies in Tokyo have refused to move, citing such reasons as preparation for Diet debates. In many cases, Diet members’ replies are prepared by bureaucrats in advance, so it is more convenient for them to stay in the area.

Details of the program to move the Cultural Affairs Agency to the ancient capital will be hammered out by the end of this year, but some of its functions, such as those related to Diet affairs and diplomatic activities, will be retained in Tokyo.

The government “will try hard to produce benefits for both central and local governments and have a strong impact on regional revitalization efforts,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.

Separately, Regional Revitalization Minister Shigeru Ishiba said Tuesday’s decision isn’t the end of the government’s decentralization efforts.

The basic policy said the impact of the Cultural Affairs Agency’s relocation to Kyoto will be huge in view of the traditional cultural assets in the prefecture and the expected expansion of the agency’s operations, including tourism promotion.

First published in The Japan Times on March 23.

Warm up

One-minute chat about big cities.

Game

Collect words related to Kyoto, e.g., shrine, temple, Gion festival.

New words

1) revitalize: to give new life or vitality to; e.g., “We would like to revitalize the old shopping area.”

2) bureaucracy: the officials and administrators working for the government; e.g., “Kasumigaseki is known as the center of Japan’s bureaucracy.”

3) hammer out: to produce a deal or plan after much discussion; e.g., “They hammered out an agreement after hours of talks.”

Guess the headline

It’s official: C_ _ _ _ _ _ _ Affairs Agency moving to K_ _ _ _

Questions

1) What is the aim of the plan to relocate government agencies?

2) Will all the Cultural Affairs Agency’s functions move to Kyoto?

3) What is expected to happen after the agency relocates?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Where do you think the Cultural Affairs Agency should be located?

2) What steps should be taken to revitalize regional economies?

3) Where would you like to work if you could choose?

Reference

仕事があればそれに携わる人がその周りに住み、その結果としてお金が その地で使われます。東京は首都である故当然ながらさまざまな行政機能やビジネスの中心地ともなっていますが、局所的に仕事が集中する傾向は見直しを迫られるほどにまでになりました。東京と、仕事がないから人が出ていき経済が鈍くなるという循環を抱える場所とのアンバランスが改善され ないままであるのなら、そこに一石を投じるのは行政だという試みでしょう。

便利さを求めればやはり東京が便利だという結論に至っても致し方ないかもしれませんが、それぞれの地方には特色がありそれをうまく生かすことで 東京では実現できないことを成し遂げられる可能性を秘めています。行政は地域性を生かしたビジネスの在り方を社会に示すことができるでしょうか。

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