• Compiled from Kyodo, staff reports

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A rift between the national and local governments over decentralization appears to have developed into an unprecedented attempt to boycott products made by one of the nation’s major consumer electronics makers.

Tottori Gov. Yoshihiro Katayama said Monday he will launch a campaign to boycott products of Toshiba Corp., headed by Chairman Taizo Nishimuro, who also heads the Council for Decentralization Reform.

The reform panel submitted a report last week on so-called trinity reforms that involve cuts in national subsidies to local governments, a review of the system of tax grant allocations to local governments and the transfer of tax collection authority to prefectural governments.

The panel proposed cutting subsidies by several trillion yen by fiscal 2006, but failed to state which national tax collection authority should be transferred to local governments.

“He has managed to drive the panel discussions in an undemocratic manner,” Katayama said of Nishimuro during Monday’s meeting of Tottori Prefectural Assembly members.

Katayama also slammed the panel’s report, which he claimed would deprive local governments of financial resources and cause them to malfunction. He said Nishimuro is not qualified to act as panel chairman.

Regarding his planned Toshiba boycott, Katayama said: “The quality of the company, which has Mr. Nishimuro as its chairman, can be easily judged.”

In Tokyo, Nishimuro told reporters he was bewildered by the news report, saying, “If (Katayama) really made such remarks, something must be wrong. The prime minister appointed me as an intellectual, not as the chairman of Toshiba.”

He also said Katayama’s remarks would place great pressure on people from the private sector who join government panels.

Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, said he wants the boycott call to be retracted.

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