The governor of Fukuoka prefecture Wataru Aso has called for Japan’s national government to shoulder more of the financial burden in its construction projects. Aso, who is chairman of Japan’s National Governors’ Association, said that he was in agreement with the Cabinet Office’s Decentralisation Promotion Committee, when it argued that national government needs to scale back the contributions sought from local government for construction projects in their area. Under Japan’s Local Finance Law, local authorities have to part-finance local construction projects devised by the central government.
The National Governors’ Association responded to the Japanese government’s 2009/10 schedule of approved construction schemes in saying that central government needs to provide clearer information to local government regarding proposed spending in their local area, if such schemes require their financial backing. The association remarked that if central government can provide detailed information on spending allocated to local government through subsidies then it needed to be equally as transparent about the perceived local benefits of such public works if it requires their financial contribution.
Opinion on the relevance of such projects undertaken by central government has polarised opinion among members of the governors’ association. Osaka governor Toru Hashimoto said that local authorities should be given more fiscal freedom in order to undertake such projects themselves, as they see fit and depending on local circumstances. Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima signalled his support for national government’s role in local construction projects however.
In response, Japan’s minister of internal affairs Kunio Hatoyama said he agreed that if local government is of the view that construction projects are better managed and financed by local authorities themselves, rather than central government, then it would take this approach in the future. He hoped that the local government element for financing such projects would be reduced to zero next year.