Public Policy Planning & Consulting Co. (SEISAKU-KOUBOU) is a public policy consulting firm based in Tokyo, covering broad policy areas such as economic policy, fiscal policy, regulatory policy, administrative reform, international trade and investment, etc.
PPPC provides consulting and briefing services to the clients in the central/local governments, Diet, local assemblies and the private sector.

This blog is aimed at providing general information, latest updates and some of our analytical reports about Japan's public policy in English.
The contents include;
- updates on some important government councils, especially those in which our executive officers serve as the members,
- weekly reports on latest news in Nagata-cho, the political center in Japan, (partially).
- analytical reports and articles by our members and distinguished experts outside the firm,(partially).


This Week’s “Nagata-cho”(8-15.Apr, 2014)

 On April 8, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council
approved a revised plan on the country’s new basic policy on energy
proposed by the government. In the new basic energy plan, it regards
the nuclear power as the country’s “important base-load resource,”
while at the same time announced to increase rate of renewable energy
to the extent “exceeding the past government goals.” The basic plan
also entailed words of reflection on the accident at Fukushima no.1
nuclear power plant and vows to decrease the country’s dependency on
the nuclear power, while it announces to resume operation of nuclear
power plants which passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety investigation.
 Given approval of the ruling coalition of LDP and New Komeito, the
Cabinet approved the basic plan on energy on April 11. The government
held a first meeting of relevant ministers on renewable energy
(chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga) based on the basic plan, and
affirmed to advance introduction of renewable energy with all the
ministries involved. The meeting will continue to be held to discuss
future energy composition or numerical targets of renewable energy.

 On a bill to revise the local educational administration act to
advance reforms of the Board of Education in local governments, the
Lower House plenary session took up the bill on April 15 and entered
discussions. The ruling parties seek an early passage of the bill within April.
 On the other hand, Democratic Party of Japan and Japan Restoration
Party on April 14 jointly submitted a counterproposal bill that plans
to abolish the Board and entitle the educational authority to
mayor/governor uniformly. The counterproposal suggests establishment
of a third party monitoring body on educational administration, as
well as an idea of school boards through which guardians and parents
can participate in management of public elementary and junior-high schools.
 Discussions and consultative negotiations on the bills will likely be
active from this week.

*The state of deliberations in both Houses and committees are
 available from the following websites.(Japanese only)
 House of Representatives Internet TV:
 Live broadcasts and video recordings of the deliberations in the
 House of Councillors :

 On April 8, LDP, Komeito, DPJ, JRP, Your Party, Yuinotoh and
People’s Life Party jointly submitted a national referendum bill
setting procedures to amend the Constitution. The Lower House
Commission on the Constitution entered discussions on the bill on
April 10, and interpellation sessions are scheduled on April 17 and 22.
In the Upper House, New Renaissance Party, not having a seat in the
Lower House, has announced to act in concert with the seven parties so
the bill will likely be passed into legislation in the current Diet session.
 The eight parties, in eye of expanding the voting rights to age of 18
from 20 in two years, schedule to establish a project team. Yet, there
are passive voices toward expanding the voting rights within LDP so it
is yet clear how the parties will reach an agreement. The bill also
entails controversial issues like expression of opinions by individual
government employees and their organizational campaigns. Furthermore,
as the joint-struggle by the eight parties exceeds 2/3 seats in both
Houses which fulfills requirements to submit amendments to the
Constitution, the political focus will likely shift to a way of
Constitutional amendments itself. In light of this, Natsuo Yamaguchi,
representative of Komeito, started asserting that the right to
environment should be manifested in the Constitution. But DPJ is
rather passive on such discussions.

 On a new Diet monitoring body that oversees classification of special
intelligence by the government, LDP finalized its draft bill
officially on April 9. In a meeting of the ruling parties on April 11,
LDP agreed to establish a project team to discuss the new body to
finalize the bill with its coalition partner Komeito.which has had
different ideas with LDP. After coordination with Komeito, LDP plans
consultations with JRP and Your Party which have agreed with an idea
to establish a new Diet body. In order to establish a new body by
December when the special intelligence protection law will be taken
into effect, LDP seeks an early passage of the bill within this Diet.



JA Privilege must be Reconsidered

*Written by PPPC Visiting Fellow

 JA Zenchu (Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives) on April 3
announced its “JA group reform plan on agricultural management and
economic restart.” While it had caused expectations as internal
reform plan from JA itself along with the Abe Cabinet’s strong
decisiveness to create strong agriculture, unfortunately, it only
exposed limitations of reform-ideas from inside.

 Looking at the current state of Japanese agriculture centered on JA,
its total products decreased from 8.3 trillion yen in 20 years ago to
4.6 trillion yen, and export of agricultural goods amounts to no more
than 286 billion yen, making a sharp contrast with Netherland, smaller
than Japan in both size and population but producing world’s second
largest 75.5 billion dollars.

 Meanwhile, those older than 65 years old, which is retirement age in
ordinary companies, dominate 60% of the working population in
agriculture and ratio of younger generations has marked lower standard.
Size of farmlands decreased from 6.07 million ha in 50 years ago to
4.56 million ha, and farmland per capita scores 1.9 ha which is far
smaller than in U.S. (198 ha) or Australia (3,423 ha).

 In order to turn such deteriorated agriculture into growth industry,
it is necessary to promote entry of youth into agriculture and to
integrate farmlands so that fewer professional farmers undertake the

 However, in the “reform plan,” although it piles up such big themes
as “expansion of products (training of undertakers),” “vitalization
of communities (specification of JA role),” “maximization of
agricultural incomes (low-cost production by scale-economy),” etc.,
hardly any specific measures have been announced to cope with the
longstanding challenges.
 For example, there is no mentioning on the local agricultural
committees overseeing use of farmlands which have been pointed as
stumbling block to concentration of farmlands, or on lifting ban on
corporate ownership of farmlands which will lead to entry of private
companies into agriculture.

 After all, all JA intends is to protect the vast number of
small-scale, part-time farmers and to maintain political influences
through its ballot machines. It seems that JA cannot get way from its
self-spelling mission of maintaining agriculture as protected industry
instead of turning it into growth industry.
 On the other hand, farmers cannot live without having contacts with
JA in many ways. It is because they have difficulties receiving
subsidies without JA, or they cannot avoid JA in raising funds,
materials and fertilizers as JA controls the monetary and distribution
channels (Honma Masayoshi, Nogyo Mondai (Problems in Agriculture),

 One of the frameworks enabling such structural problems is the
privileged status of JA which is authorized to manage monetary
business (credit, mutual aid) and economic business (procurement,
distribution, etc.) concurrently. If JA cannot reform itself in order
to transform Japanese agriculture into growth industry, there is
little significance in granting such privileged status to JA any more.
It is time to reconsider such privileged status of JA.


This Week’s “Nagata-cho”(1-8.Apr, 2014)

 The Cabinet on April 4 approved and submitted a bill to revise the
local educational administration act to advance reforms of the Board
of Education in local governments.
 The bill entails plans to (1) establish a new post of “education
chief” which undertakes functions of existing Chairman of Board and
secretary-general concurrently and appointed by local leaders with
consents of assembly for three year’s term, (2) that final
responsibility of educational administration (as executor) will
continue to reside in the Board, and (3) to make it compulsory for
local governments to establish a full-time comprehensive panel that
discusses and makes important decisions with regard to education such
as budget, ordinances and basic guidelines chaired by mayor/governor
and composed of intellectuals. It also arranged that selection of
textbooks and personnel matters of teachers be exclusively handled by
the Board in a bid to prevent excessive intervention by political leaders.

 The ruling coalition of Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito seek
an early passage of the bill, eager in holding consultative
negotiations with the opposition parties. Still, the opposition
Democratic Party of Japan and Japan Restoration Party had agreed on
April 1 to submit a joint counterproposal to the same Diet that plans
to abolish the Board and entitle the educational authority to
mayor/governor uniformly. The counterproposal also suggests
establishment of a third party monitoring body on educational
administration. For the wide gap on the view of reforms, it isn’t
clear yet whether the confronting sides can reach an agreement during
the current ordinary session of the Diet.

*The state of deliberations in both Houses and committees are
 available from the following websites.(Japanese only)
 House of Representatives Internet TV:
 Live broadcasts and video recordings of the deliberations in the
 House of Councillors :

 On Japan’s new basic plan on energy policy that sets the country’s
mid- and long-term directions,
 A working team of the ruling coalition approved a draft plan on April
3. The draft has inherited recognition of nuclear power as the country’
s “important base-load resource,” suggesting that the Cabinet will
seek resuming operation of the country’s nuclear power plants. With
regard to renewable energy, the ruling coalition agreed to avoid
mentioning specific numerical targets but to entail expressions to
“exceed goals of the past government decisions” to show an attitude
to accelerate introduction of renewable energy in a bid to decrease
dependency on the nuclear power. The Cabinet eyes increasing the rate
of renewable energy to 30% by 2030 as goal of efforts, and ministerial
meeting to be established after a Cabinet approval on the plan will
continue further discussions on the energy policy, including numerical
targets of renewable energy and future power composition.

 As the inter-coalition discussions have roughly been settled on the
educational reform, new energy plan and the Three Principles of Arms
Export, the next focus will shift to inter-coalition coordination on
controversial issues like a Diet monitoring body on special
intelligence protection by the government or reinterpretation of the
Constitution with regard to exercising the right to collective self-defense.
 Since enactment of the special intelligence protection legislation in
last autumn, there has been discrepancy between LDP, insisting that a
new Diet monitoring body will not have an authority to judge
appropriateness of information-classification and Komeito, voicing
that a new body will be given right to release recommendations to the
government on designation/cancellation in case the body judged there
was an arbitrary classification. The gap remains as far apart.
 LDP and Komeito plans to hold a meeting of project-team sometime this
week. The ruling parties will bring in their each draft bill, but it
is yet to be seen whether the discussions will be settled.

 At the same time, there are wide discrepancy between Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe and the ruling LDP, and its coalition partner Komeito on a
change of interpretation of the pacifist Constitution toward lifting
the country’s self-imposed ban on the right to collective
self-defense. Although the Advisor Panel on Reconstruction of the
Legal Basis of Security had scheduled to submit its report within
April, the panel postponed its schedule to sometime in May after long
holidays. The government entered final stage of drafting by stating to
limit the Self-Defense Forces’ activities to Japanese territorial
waters or the high seas in the exercise of the right to collective
self-defense to gain the support of intra-party moderates and Komeito.
 On April 3, LDP started a meeting with Komeito. But Komeito called
for a cautious approach toward lifting the nation's self-imposed ban
on the right to collective self-defense, indicating that revising
existing laws such as the Law Concerning Measures for Peace and
Security of Japan in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan are
sufficient for the nation to respond to emergencies. While the parties
will continue discussions on the issue, it is likely that the parties
will have difficulty reaching an agreement.



This Week’s “Nagata-cho” (25.Mar-1.Apr, 2014)

 Last week on March 28, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed numerical
targets of implementing the budget FY 2014 in order to minimize
possible negative impacts of the consumption tax hike from 5% to 8%
from April 1 to the countrys economy to all the ministers. The
subject of numerical targets is the 12 trillion yen including public
works projects. Abe requested that 40% of spending will be completed
by the end of June and 60% be undertaken by end-September.
 Regarding the fact that there are concerns that the tax-hike will
hamper individual consumptions and slow down the countrys nascent
economic recovery once again, while Prime Minister Abe admitted on
March 31 in the Upper House Audit Committee that the tax-hike might
have damages to the economy, he stressed that he would make all-out
efforts to drive the economy onto growth as early as in July by
alleviating negative influences with the 5.5 trillion yen of the
supplementary budget and quick spending of the initial budget for this
fiscal year. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga also stated in a press
conference that the Cabinet would make every effort on economic
measures that will prevent the economy from declining.

 The upcoming challenges the Abe Cabinet will face include minimizing
and overcoming negative economic impacts likely to be caused by the
tax-hike and swiftly putting into place the growth strategy, including
revision of the growth strategy to be released in June. In particular,
it is vital for the Cabinet to break through the countrys regulatory
regimes which are often likened to solid bedrocks due to persistent
opposition from related industries and ministries, and to expand
created operational plans nationwide.

 On March 28, a government panel chaired by Prime Minister Abe selected
six areas as the National Strategic Special Zones where regulations
will be eased. The designated zones are the Tokyo area, covering Tokyo
and Kanagawa Prefecture as well as Narita, Chiba Prefecture; the
Kansai area, covering Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures; Niigata;
Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture; Fukuoka; and Okinawa Prefecture. In the Tokyo
zone, the metropolitan government is expected to ease restrictions
such as the ratio of total floor space to plot size near central Tokyo
stations to improve international competitiveness of the nations
capital. Narita is expected to collaborate with a university to create
an international medical department in a bid to turn the city into
one of the best medical service bases in the world. In the Kansai zone,
the government expects the city of Osaka to develop a hub for medical
innovation, including regenerative medicine centering on induced
pluripotent stem cells. The details of these two metropolitan economic
zones will be considered further. Meanwhile, Niigata and Yabu are
considering shifting part of their administrative work, currently
overseen by local agricultural committees, to their city governments
to promote the use of farmland. Fukuoka proposes to establish a labor
support center to help solve labor-management issues with the aim of
making it easier to do business in the city, particularly for foreign
companies. Okinawa Prefecture is likely to work on deregulation of
factors such as medical practices by foreign doctors and the tourism

 The government intends to obtain Cabinet approval for the
designations based on the National Strategic Special Zones Law in
April. It plans to set up a steering group for each special zone,
comprising representatives of central and local governments, and
companies, to devise deregulation projects. The special zones are
expected to go into operation this summer.

*The state of deliberations in both Houses and committees are
 available from the following websites.(Japanese only)
 House of Representatives Internet TV
 Live broadcasts and video recordings of the deliberations in the
 House of Councillors