Along with the ¥14 trillion supplementary budget for fiscal 2009 designed to stimulate the Japanese economy, the government has a long-term strategy to attain economic growth. It envisages increasing the nation’s gross domestic product by ¥120 trillion and creating 4 million jobs by 2020. For the fiscal 2009-2011 period, the government has the goal of creating 1.4 million to 2 million jobs by increasing domestic demand by ¥40 trillion to ¥60 trillion.

The strategy has three pillars — a low-carbon revolution, improvement of medical and nursing care services and the development of tourism industry. It calls for the attainment of a 20-fold increase in solar-power generation capacity by 2020 and the early installation of solar panels in government buildings; efforts to establish international standards for battery chargers for electric-powered cars; and the introduction of small (100-seat) jet airliners to encourage tourism.

The ideas included in the strategy are not necessarily innovative. What is important is that the government implement concrete measures to achieve the individual goals. Unfortunately, the strategy lacks a long-range vision of how to fairly distribute economic, cultural and political functions nationwide.

In 1998, the administration of then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto adopted what was called a “grand design for the national land for the 21st century.” This aimed to turn Japan into a multipolar nation in which various functions would be spread across the nation, and included relocation of the capital.

The program envisaged fulfilling the goal in the 2010-2015 period. But economic, cultural and political functions have continued to accumulate within Tokyo. The plan now adopted by the administration of Prime Minister Taro Aso does not address the question of how to change this trend.

The lopsidedness of Tokyo’s prosperity compared with the impoverishment of regional economies is undeniable and must be confronted. Both the ruling and opposition parties should work out a long-range vision to build a multipolar nation with strong economic and cultural hubs firmly established in regions outside Tokyo.

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