The regions are rich in possibilities, and they should be replete with the energy of the people who live in them. However, long years of centralised political control led by bureaucrats has blocked that vibrant energy from manifesting itself. What is essential for releasing that energy and restoring vitality to regional communities throughout Japan is the thinking that "local matters must be decided locally".
The DPJ will have the courage to act from that perspective to shift tax resources and powers to the regions, and foster their revitalisation.
Limit the role of the state, and transfer powers to the regions
We will limit the excessively large powers of the central government ministries and agencies, transfer powers to the regions, and create a framework that gives freedom of policy choice to suit local needs. We will abolish the intricate array of compartmentalised and detailed regulations and interference by the government authorities. In fields in which activities are limited to specific entities licensed by local government offices, such as welfare, healthcare, and agriculture, we will bring about a change to a society in which local people are free to display their originality and ingenuity in ways that match their own needs, evoking the power of self-government.
Reduce grants, and increase funds that the regions are free to use
To develop the regions by means of local sovereignty and citizen sovereignty, powers and financial resources will be transferred simultaneously to the regions. Of the approximately ¥20 trillion of tied grants currently given by the central government to the regions, we will switch some ¥18 trillion to funds that the regions can make free use of (approx. ¥12 trillion of lump-sum grants and ¥5.5 trillion of transfers of tax-revenue sources). Through that we will support the independent, autonomous efforts of local governments in line with the actual situation in each locality.
Assist economic activity by local entities
We will establish creditworthy banks, and will support the revitalisation of local small and medium-sized enterprises. At the same time we will nurture industries and new businesses in the fields of welfare, healthcare, the environment, and information, restore vitality to regional economies, and create jobs and employment in the regions. We will also support the development of professional skills, human resource development, etc., to match the industrial needs of the regions.
Support regional development by harnessing people power through NPOs, etc.
The DPJ aims constantly for the type of politics in which citizens play the central role. Today in the regions, numerous non-profit organisations (NPOs) have emerged as the guardians of social services in a wide array of fields, such as nursing, childrearing, culture, health, environmental conservation, and the maintenance of townscapes and landscapes. We will create an environment in which these diverse NPO activities are fostered and supported, and in which local authorities and NPOs collaborate in building affluent local communities.
Create a decentralised Japan by strengthening the foundations of municipalities and introducing a system of states
By strengthening the foundations of municipalities and introducing a do-shu system (system of states), we will create a region-centred decentralised nation by transferring to the regions many of the powers currently exercised by the central government. At the same time we will strive to invigorate the communities closest to the lives of local citizens.