Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Political Mystery - Reprise

My morning paper pulp news transmission device has a short list of a few more choice items from the Tohoku/Fukushima reconstruction and recovery budget, supplementing the list of items I passed on a week ago. (Link)

Take a gander at this pair:

30 million -- to the Ministry of Law, for a program labeled, and I am not making this up, "Improvement in the Measures to Prevent the Reoccurrence of Crimes in the Disaster Regions," where the funds were used for the purchase of small-scale construction machinery and educational materials for prisons located in Saitama Prefecture and in Hokkaido.

8 billion -- to the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry, to subsidize Japanese corporations in the opening up of new rare earths and rare metals mines, on the rationale that shortages in these vital materials could have a negative impact on employment in the disaster-struck zones. (Link)

I swear I am not making this stuff up. No one could. Well, obviously a bureaucrat could. But no responsible, caring and, mostly importantly, humble person could.

I must add a postscript to my October 17 post on these peculiar-looking disaster relief budget items. I noted that 4.7 billion yen of the FY2011 disaster relief budget was destined for ITER, the project formerly known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

ITER is a worthwhile nuclear fusion project, as far as fusion projects go (Link). While the tokamak itself is being built in southern France, Japan did extort receive a consolation prize of the construction of secondary facilities in Japan, plus ITER's director-generalship and 20% of the research positions (and they say this blessed land is a pushover - ha!).

In the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, buildings housing the machines used to test the equipment bound for use in the ITER at the Naka Fusion Institute in Ibaraki Prefecture (Link) sustained significant damage. Repairs of these facilities on an emergency basis were justifiable as necessary for the Government of Japan to honor international obligations to not further delay the already well behind schedule ITER project.

By coincidence, ITER's Japan arm, the Japan Domestic Agency (JADA) opens its doors today (October 24).


Catch said...

Are these not budgetary requests anyway? The aim high and see what we can get away with, then barter down?

MTC said...

Catch –

If you can find references to the contrary (and please do) the items I have been listing are indeed what the bureaucrats have gotten away with.

What is demoralizing is that almost all these items appear in the draft FY2012 reconstruction and recovery budget. The exception, interestingly enough, is the pelagic whaling subsidy. Its disappearance is perhaps due to the outlay’s still sitting, unused, in the Institute of Cetacean Research’s bank account.