• Tokyo


Sana Tanaka’s Dec. 1 letter, “Tourist tickets go the wrong way,” reminded me of the wining and dining days in Seoul (after 1992), when I worked for a financial company underwriting securities. Private and government spending, of course, came to an end when the international monetary crisis engulfed South Korea in 1997. Returning to Tokyo, I jumped into a meagerly paying public job.

Tanaka’s three reasons for opposing the use of national budget funds to promote tourism and to pay for thousands of free flights to Japan, beginning next fiscal year, do not address the likelihood that Japan’s elite bureaucrats will collect money elsewhere from residents on this archipelago, as there is no free lunch.

The sooner that residents in Japan succeed in stopping the law faculty mandarin brains from hemorrhaging, the better. Or, do we just grin and bear it as we did each time the government jacked up the consumption tax. Expenditures have grown like wildfire ever since. In 1997, for example, when the consumption tax rate increased from 3 to 5 percent, Japan’s ratio of debt to gross domestic product commenced its no-return trek off the radar screen, compared with other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Mark my word: In the next fiscal year, when more tax money is scheduled to flow into government coffers, the outflow of expenditures will be even greater. Japan has no parliamentary due process to prevent an unfettered budget ceiling. Tanaka and other residents must stop whining and take stock of every tax proposal. They must ask that the government scrap any wasteful spending, just as U.S. citizens are doing with Congress.

Otherwise, the financial tsunami now raging in Greece, Italy and elsewhere will sooner or later reach Japan’s beaches. It is not just a fire on the other side of the river. So, let me take this occasion to be the first to ask the tourism agency to scrap its far-fetched idea of wasting ¥1.1 billion, come next April, on a desperate hope.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

fumio sakuragi

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