Proposed Solutions to Japan's Financial Problems

By Billy Hammond

Dear Diet Member:

I have lived in Japan for more than two decades. During that time, I have watched the Japanese economy sink deeper and deeper into its current depression. I have also observed the ineffective measures taken by the Diet to prevent its decline.

I believe that the Diet is heading in the wrong direction and would like to offer some suggestions to help get Japan out of the economic rut it is in. My plan can be divided into 3 parts: "Increasing Revenues", "Cost cutting" and "Stimulating the Economy". Some of the ideas may seem radical and outlandish to you and you may not agree with them, however, I ask that you consider each one for there may be something you can use.

Increasing Revenues

1) Tax Japanese companies for profits earned from foreign assets, just as the United States does. Japanese companies have been shifting their production to countries with cheaper conditions. It is only fair that they pay taxes on the profits they make as a result of taking their production overseas and taking jobs away from their fellow countrymen and women.

2) Eliminate any NPOs that cannot meet a test of being a truly non-profit organization. Limit NPO expenditures to: direct expenses such as those for supplies, rent in inexpensive areas, and the strictly accountable use of money going to the target cause or group. Eliminate administrative and worker salaries in NPOs (after all, they should be volunteer organizations). Tighten the rules for non-profit organizations to weed out those that are merely being used to provide tax escapes and income for their founding members. Tax the former NPOs that fail to meet the aforementioned conditions.

3) Eliminate rice production subsidies. Japanese rice is being produced on land that is more suited to intensive vegetable cultivation. Import rice from the U.S. with no import tariffs and create an emergency warehouse to be stocked with a year's supply at all times to provide for a partial return to rice cultivation in the event unforeseen conditions prevent its import. This should have the added advantages of increasing income for farmers who sell vegetables, which should bring a better price per acre than rice and providing cheaper rice for the consumers.

4) Increase the corporate tax rate for the branches of companies that have head offices outside of Japan, even if their Japanese branch is a Japanese company. This should encourage Japanese companies to keep their companies in Japan.

Cost Cutting

1) Stop funding the banks with government money. Insure deposits with government money in the event of bank bankruptcy, with no upper limit on the amount of deposits. Allow banks that cannot be fiscally responsible to go bankrupt and make their executives take responsibility for their failure. Depositors will put their money in the surviving banks, making them stronger.

2) Reduce the number of Diet members. Japan has a larger number of Diet members than the Congress of the U.S. This seems rather strange in light of the size and population of the country.

Institute a system whereby the people can actually choose all of their representatives. If there are 100 representative positions and 150 candidates, there should be 150 candidates on the ballot and each citizen of Japan should be allowed to choose up to 100 candidates from them. The number of votes received for each candidate should then be ranked and the results made public. This would serve as an indicator of how many people actually support a candidate.

3) Replace the current health care system. Under the present system, elderly people who really need health care cannot get it and those who don't need it get maid services. Replace the system with one similar to what was in place before the current mess. Make sure that people who really need medical help can get it. This should result in a cost reduction through the elimination of the current numbers who are receiving unnecessary maid service and calling it health care. Provide around-the-clock hospital care for those who really need it@instead of housemaid services.

4) Privatize the Post Office immediately. If the government could do it with JNR, there is no reason why they cannot do it with the Postal Service. This should take a huge burden off the taxpayers.

5) Stop issuing government bonds. They cost money to produce and the more bonds Japan issues, the weaker they become.

6) Stop creating insane laws that do more to destroy your system than to better it. Do you really need more lawyers to file lawsuits? Do you need more shihoshoshi, when most are struggling today? Implementing such changes cost tax money and will lead to more problems than they solve later. Do you want to create a litigious society like the U.S.?

7) Change your laws concerning bidding for government contracts to allow for distributed bidding. For example, if you need a book describing the government, farm out the writing, proofreading, design, typesetting, printing and delivery in parts, not as a whole set to an entire company. This will certainly result in savings and, in all probability, a better finished product.

8) Eliminate the Juki-net system. It costs big money and is disliked by your citizens. It is a security risk and only provides money for the companies administering it.

Stimulating the Economy

1) Eliminate the consumption tax. Diet politicians have lied about it being standard all over the world. It is not and the rates are not universal in the United States.

2) Explain your bills and laws to the people in clear and simple language to inform the people of what you are trying to do. Stop using borrowed English words (katakana eigo) that are often used incorrectly and not understood by the majority of citizens. Put your Diet proceedings on the Internet for all to see and advertise the URL in newspapers and on TV.

3) Insure bank deposits in full in the event of bank failure.

4) Support small businesses and encourage them to bid on government projects.

5) Revise your labor laws to provide support for the old form of employment (shushinkoyo). This will increase consumer confidence a lot because people will spend money when they know they'll have a job tomorrow.

6) Revise your bankruptcy laws to make the directors of large (over 10,000,000,000 JPY in declared capital) corporations accountable in the event of bankruptcy. Do not put government money into bankrupt corporations.

7) Create a law which will force government workers who retire and take administrative positions in related private companies (amakudari) to return the amount of retirement pay they received from the government.

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Copyright July 2003. Billy Hammond. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited.