National

As part of experiment, Consumer Affairs Agency transfers office from Tokyo to Tokushima

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

As part of the government’s drive to relocate some of its Tokyo-centric functions to other cities to promote regional revitalization, the Consumer Affairs Agency inaugurated a new office in Tokushima Prefecture on Monday.

The office, set up in the Tokushima Prefectural Government building, will deal with issues ranging from ethical consumption and child product safety issues to analyzing problems related to e-commerce.

The inauguration ceremony took place the day before another entity, the Cultural Affairs Agency, was expected to announce with Kyoto officials that it will transfer to a building currently used by the Kyoto Prefectural Police.

“There’s no need to wait to rectify the over-concentration in Tokyo. This is a big step to reorganize the Japanese government’s organizational structure, which has been in place since the Meiji Period,” Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi said in remarks delivered at the ceremony.

“You have to produce quality results for consumers nationwide,” Yasumasa Nagasaka, a parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, told the staff of the new office in his remarks.

The new Consumer Affairs Agency office will be staffed by up to 55 bureaucrats. Over the next three years, its work will be evaluated to help form the basis of a further decision by the central government as to whether to relocate the entire agency to Tokushima.

The office is being welcomed locally as the first step toward reviving its economy by increasing the number of young, taxpaying residents. But the opening of the new office in Tokushima, and the possibility that the entire agency might move there, have faced opposition from those who do not want to relocate for personal reasons, as well as questions about whether relocation would actually increase the cost of operations because of the resulting need for many in the office to travel to Tokyo.

In Kyoto, meanwhile, preparations are being made to usher in the Cultural Affairs Agency. While the exact schedule remains uncertain, municipal and prefectural officials are expected to declare on Tuesday that they will offer the main building of the Kyoto Prefectural Police as its new home. Among four potential locations, officials from the agency and Kyoto had previously judged the police building as requiring the least time and resources to renovate.