On August 24, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai, 63, will be elected as the new president of the National Governors’ Association, an organization of prefectural governors that makes requests and policy proposals to the national government regarding local finances and other issues. Governor Murai, who served as an officer in the Ground Self-Defense Force and as a member of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly, was first elected to the prefectural governorship in 2005, and is currently serving his fifth term as vice president of the Governors’ Association.
He is currently serving his fifth term and is vice president of the Governor’s Association. （It is important to adjust the distribution of population.
As chairman of the Governors’ Association, he was quick to express his intention to request Tokyo’s cooperation in “measures to correct the maldistribution of tax revenue,” which would redistribute the abundant tax revenues of large cities to the regions.
We have obtained documents that show a major governor from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the ministry are heavily involved behind this statement. The document is titled “Meeting with the Governor’s Association (Draft Summer Proposals, etc.),” with a note in the upper right corner that reads, “Personal Memo – Discarded after Reading.
There were eight participants in total: two from the Prefectural Tax Division of the Local Autonomy and Taxation Bureau, two from the Fiscal Affairs Division of the Local Autonomy and Finance Bureau, two assistants from the Financial Research Division, and one each from Miyazaki and Tottori prefectures within the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
I would like to say that the Governor’s Association is very interested in correcting the uneven distribution of taxation, so we have decided to hold a strategy meeting today. I apologize for coming all the way to Tokyo, but from the viewpoint of information management, we decided to have a face-to-face meeting.
The “maldistribution correction measure” was introduced in 2008 with the aim of revitalizing local regions by allocating tax revenues from large cities to local governments in order to reduce tax revenue disparities among local governments.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is rich in tax revenues, was affected by the measure to the tune of 400 billion yen per year, but the amount of impact has been increasing every year: 550 billion yen in FY 2007, 700 billion yen in FY 2008, and 1.25 trillion yen in FY 2009.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been deprived of 1.3 trillion yen in a single year and 7.9 trillion yen in the cumulative total of its financial resources” (Governor’s press conference, July 28, 2009).
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (71) has consistently shown her opposition to correcting this uneven distribution. She has repeatedly criticized the government for “attempting to deprive urban areas of tax revenues” and “going against decentralization.”
However, most municipalities did nothing to raise tax revenues, so the opposition was not overwhelming. Even in the data, how to silence the Tokyo Metropolitan Government? It shows a glimpse of corruption toward Governor Koike.
As for the draft proposal, Tokyo and Osaka will surely oppose it. In order to counter this, I would like each prefecture to submit opinions such as, “This draft is lukewarm,” “Do more,” or “Do it right away.
In the drafting stage, could the strategy be to make the text tougher, and then settle on the current draft based on the feedback from Tokyo?
That’s right. In fact, I think we can go with a tighter draft. However, the executives are concerned about the Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture. The governor’s association will have a hard time without a plan of this magnitude. It will take a lot of strength to argue for the correction of uneven distribution in front of Governor Koike.
A career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on condition of anonymity.
If it is a measure to correct the maldistribution of public services, they will just take the money from the major cities. By converting the money into a national tax and distributing it to local governments, the MIC will be able to strengthen its influence over each local government. However, it is not clear how the money has been used to revitalize local governments and what effect it has had. Some tax experts say that the hard work of local governments is not rewarded, and that this hinders local autonomy.
Governor Koike will also take aim at this point, so it is necessary to control the National Governors’ Association. As indicated by the phrase “a certain kind of government,” the governor is using the National Governors’ Association to create the appearance that the local regions are demanding a reduction in the maldistribution of taxes. There are 10 governors who are alumni of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and the pillar of this group is Governor Hirai of Tottori, who has been working with Vice Minister Naito.
It is well known that the former chairman, Governor Shinji Hirai of Tottori Prefecture (61), and Administrative Vice Minister Naoshi Naito of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (61), both law graduates of the University of Tokyo, entered the Ministry of Home Affairs (now the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) in 1984 and are known to have shared a common meal together.
The same document also states, “Governor Hirai was a frequent participant in the deliberations.
Governor Hirai has been in and out of the deliberation room frequently, and I believe he has a sense of this matter as well.
On August 8, at a regular press conference, Governor Hirai announced his resignation, saying, “I have chosen not to run for the National Governors’ Association President Election,” and “I thought it would be better to pass the baton to promote the reform of the Governors’ Association. Governor Murai, who is not an alumnus of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, then took his place.
In reality, it was a complete sham. The post of president of the National Governors’ Association has been held by governors who are MIC alumni for many years, and it was a foregone conclusion that Hirai would continue to hold the post for a second term. However, the Mainichi Shimbun and other media reports raised concerns about growing criticism of the cozy relationship between the MIC and the National Governors’ Association, and a proposal was made to appoint a governor who is not from the MIC as a single point of contact. The idea was to single out a governor with no MIC background, who would be easier to grip and manipulate remotely,” said a career bureaucrat.
In fact, on the afternoon of the 7th, the day before the press conference, Governor Hirai met with Governor Murai of Miyagi Prefecture at the Prefectural Hall in Hirakawa-cho, Tokyo.
He had his entourage removed for 30 minutes, and the two of them discussed the matter in private and in strictest confidence. We will make Governor Murai the next chairman. To this end, we will also use the MIC’s nationwide network to lay the groundwork in each prefecture. In return, we would like him to promise to work under the direction of the MIC,” said the career bureaucrat.
The same document also shows how the approach to the minister and the rooting around of the study committee members were also considered. When things went wrong, he would pull strings from behind the scenes and replace the head of the board of governors. The documents also show that the MIC is eager to expand the interests of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications by using all kinds of wiles and tricks. Does he have any sense of serving the people as a public servant?
Reporting and writing： Daisuke Iwasaki