|Create regions that have autonomy and are pulsing with vitality
|If the regions are autonomous, the vitality of their local citizens will make them dynamic. The DPJ will cultivate local autonomy and the economic strength of the regions, and will foster a "decentralization revolution" which also envisions the creation of a do-shu system.
|3-1 A "decentralization revolution": Build a society in which the regions can decide local issues for themselves.
 We will abolish ¥18 trillion in tied grants and allow the regions to take responsibility for the use of these funds.
We will abolish the payment of the approximately ¥18 trillion of the ¥20 trillion of central-government tied grants whose use is subject to unnecessary restrictions, and change them to lump-sum grants that local governments can use at their own responsibility and discretion.
In collaboration with reformist prefectural governors and mayors nationwide, we will take steps to transfer the taxes and financial resources used to fund the grants. This will be based on a proposal to transfer the source of approximately ¥5.5 trillion of this ¥18 trillion from income taxes to local residents' taxes, and to convert approximately ¥12 trillion into lump-sum grants.
After forming the administration we will terminate individual grants available from budgetary measures, signifying the start of the switch to lump-sum grants. We will carry out revisions to the relevant legislation by the summer of 2005, and in the 2006 fiscal year will increase the amount of grants we terminate to approximately ¥18 trillion.
When transferring financial resources from the national government to regional level, we will develop a system for public monitoring and evaluation of the administrative authorities. We will require local governments to take measures to prevent collusion in tendering for public contracts, including the relevant reform measures effected at the government's initiative, and to cut administration expenses by reforming their local public finances.
 Limit the powers of central government ministries, establish local autonomy, and clarify the powers of citizens to participate in government.
During our term of office we will submit to the Diet and seek the enactment of the following bills: a bill for the establishment of local autonomy, to include provisions to limit the powers of central government ministries and agencies and to set out clearly the allocation of powers between the central and local governments; and bills for a basic law for the furtherance of self-government by residents and a law for residents' referendums, which will strengthen information disclosure and direct participation by citizens, the most important prerequisites for enabling local residents to participate in and have their views reflected in decision-making on administrative measures.
3-2 Increase the budget for SMEs sevenfold, and abolish the system whereby individuals act as guarantors for government loans.
To restore soundness to local industries and commercial districts, we will formulate annual plans for a sevenfold increase in the budget (approximately ¥90 billion in the budget for the 2003 fiscal year) for assisting SMEs and reinvigorating commercial districts; a twofold increase will be made in the 2004 fiscal year budget. By such means as improving preferential tax treatment for investment angels we will create mechanisms to facilitate fund-raising for business start-ups, and thereby foster the creation of new enterprises.
In addition to Financial Revival Final Plan, we will change the senseless insistence that individuals act as guarantors for SME financing. Over a five-year period we will remove in principle the providing of these guarantees for loans from governmental financial institutions (People's Finance Corporation, Small Business Finance Corporation, Shoko Chukin Bank).
3-3 Reform the ¥1 trillion agriculture-related budgets and create a system of direct assistance and direct payments that prevents waste
Our aim is to increase food self-sufficiency to ensure the stability of food supplies and food safety, and also to re-evaluate the multifaceted functions of agriculture, such as that of assuring an abundance of greenery in the national landscape, and to establish the kind of agriculture that harmoniously encompasses the environment, food production, and business in a way that the people desire. To that end, we aim to establish a waste-free system of direct assistance and direct payments to start in the 2006 fiscal year, directed at agricultural entities undertaking the stable production and supply of foodstuffs.
We will also reduce agricultural civil engineering public works, numerous aspects of which are extremely opaque, and revise individual grants such as the complex production incentives. From the related budget of approximately ¥1 trillion we will devise a new system for the provision of funds.
3-4 Implement Post Office reform to enhance services to the public and boost funding for regional economies and SMEs.
The Postal Services Corporation was established in April 2003, but that has not eliminated abuses such as the effective monopoly of the postal services and the waste caused by special corporations administering areas such as postal savings. Instead of this kind of sham reform that only pays lip-service to genuine privatisation, we will carry out the reform of the postal services in a way that really helps to enhance people's daily lives and invigorate regional economies.
The DPJ has a plan to have private-sector companies participate in postal services, whose requirements currently are too demanding, for example the maintaining of 100,000 postboxes. Participation will be premised on the elimination of excessive government involvement in management, and terms that include providing a universal service (deliveries anywhere nationwide at uniform rates) within two years.
What is more, members of the public will be able to use the network of post offices to obtain an array of administrative services under one roof, for example being issued with passports at their local post office.
Before considering the final form that management should take, a decision must be taken on what to do with the bloated postal savings and postal insurance funds. We will begin with the phased lowering of the deposit ceilings for postal savings and of the limits for participation in postal insurance schemes while keeping a close watch on financial conditions.
In addition, we will study ways of creating a system whereby postal savings and postal insurance funds can be put to work to assist regional economies and SMEs by taking advantage of the market mechanism.
3-5 Assist 60% of NPOs through the tax system.
We will nurture and assist special non-profit organizations (NPOs) as providers of local services and of employment.
Of the more than 12,000 NPOs nationwide, only 15 institutions (as of August 2003) are authorized to receive preferential tax treatment. During our term of office we will ease the conditions substantially so as to enable as many as 60% of these institutions to benefit from that treatment. Moreover, to make it easier for people to give small sums to NPOs we will also make donations of less than ¥10,000 by individuals tax-deductible.
3-6 Bequeath a land of abundant greenery to the next generation.
 Replant 10 million hectares of forest over the next decade: Cultivate "green dams"
We will switch from public works that damage the environment to sustainable public works - green dam works - that protect the environment and our forest lands, creating 100,000 new jobs. This will be inspired by the flood-control effects to be derived from restoring to forest land its natural water-retention capabilities, and the effect of forests in preventing global warming through controlling carbon dioxide levels.
By making the development of forests - through periodic thinning and other means - into public works projects, we aim to replant 10 million hectares of forest over the next decade. We will do so by drawing up an annual plan immediately after forming an administration, and by then formulating budgets totalling approximately ¥100 billion in the first year and ¥250 billion after four years through the transfer of public works under the government's direct control. Ancillary to this plan we will actively promote projects to return rivers to their natural state, restoring their beauty and making them places of recreation and relaxation for people, and habitats for large numbers of living creatures.
 Double the budget for new energy, and promote more widespread use of low-pollution cars.
We will systematically increase the budget for new energy, in order to foster the development of renewable energy in such forms as wind power, solar power, biomass, and wave and tidal power, and of promising future forms of energy such as fuel cells. During our administration we will double the budget from its present level of ¥150 billion annually, to ¥300 billion.
We will also reinforce the assistance given for environmentally friendly means of transportation such as electric cars and fuel-cell cars. We will promote more widespread use of low-pollution cars by focusing assistance on electric cars, the use of which is already spreading, and fuel-cell cars, which are due to be brought into full-scale practical use in the near future. The necessary budget appropriations for this will be made by such means as transfers from energy-related budgets, and from budgets for environmental countermeasures.