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The Hatoyama administration has made one decision after another with direct effects on local governments. Among them is the move to scrap projects worth nearly ¥3 trillion included in the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget, and the decision to halt the Yanba dam project in Gunma Prefecture. As part of the budget-pruning, the ¥310 billion fund for improving medical services in remote regions was also slashed by ¥80 billion.

Cabinet ministers appear to be making such decisions without sufficient prior consultation with local governments. The Democratic Party of Japan’s election manifesto said the new government would strive to change the relationship between the central and local governments to one of equality and cooperation. The Hatoyama administration should make good on its promise and quickly set up a venue where Cabinet ministers and local government heads can jointly discuss policy matters.

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