Prefectural governors voted Thursday to adopt a list of 160 subsidy cuts as part of a 3.2 trillion yen central government subsidy-reduction plan, including the controversial 850 billion yen for junior high school teacher salaries.
The subsidy cuts are part of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s plan to transfer 3 trillion yen in tax money to local governments by the end of fiscal 2006. The reform is intended to give local governments more control over policymaking and spending.
The 160 items include subsidies in welfare, education and public works programs.
Gunma, Yamanashi, Nagano, Mie, Hiroshima, Ehime and Oita prefectures voted against the comprehensive plan at a meeting of all 47 governors held earlier Thursday in Niigata.
Opinions were split on whether to include the subsidies for teachers’ salaries on the list. Some governors opposed, claiming cutting those subsidies would undermine the quality of education because some prefectures would not be able to afford to keep teachers at the same pay levels.
But the governors agreed to the list with a supplementary comment that some were against the teacher subsidy cuts.
At a news conference in Tokyo later in the day, the governors stressed that the state’s swift handover of taxation powers to local governments is necessary.
“The central government doesn’t take the rest of Japan seriously, but villages, cities and prefectures can do a better job governing our own affairs than politicians and bureaucrats holed up in Tokyo,” said Gifu Gov. Taku Kajiwara, chairman of the National Governors Association.
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