NihonLinks News from James Miller

Techlaw Insights in Japanese and English from James Miller

I installed my first version of Linux close to 20 years ago (cross-compiled minix on an Amiga 500) and have been using WiFi under Linux for more than 10 years, and I have to say things have finally come around.  If you can’t get your WiFi card in master mode to serve as an access point using post 2.6 and 3.0 linux kernels you’re probably doing it wrong.. here’s the experience of a gray’ing hair administrator’s experience getting master mode working on a home LAN to serve as the family access point, upgrading to Oneiric Ubuntu 11.10 server addition.

I recently decided to finally upgrade my “junkbox-based” (you can’t buy this brand of PC at BestBuy but you can get it for free on craigslist)  Internet gateway/LAN server from the 2 versions old Debian/Ubuntu distribution I had to the new stable release.  At 11:30pm I was overcome with irrational exuberance and installed over the working partition.  I ended up at 4am giving up on getting my Wifi card working in “master mode” to serve as the house Wifi access point.  Thanks to my friend Warren Turkal and former googler for nudging me out of the dark ages of and forcing me to use the new standard networking tools.. that eventually solved my problems.  I’m going to pass along a few things to anyone else who still thinks that shell scripting your routes and ifconfigs is the “right way” to do things on on the Linux dominant world of today..

First a little background.  I cut my Unix administration teeth in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Mountain View startup where my first real exposure to production machines was dominated by SunOS/Solaris, AIX, and HPUX.  Ifconfig, route, tcpdump and the standard toolset define my view of the world, and all the client side supplicant, “network-manager” and other client configuration tools designed to make things “just work” never quite work for me and get in the way of my classic world view of how to configure my networking.  When even my googler friend (who I assume is a pretty good bar for nerd levels of normality) says my uses are fringe, I suppose I have to grant I’m part of the 1% when it comes to networking users.  Bonding multiple residential broadband accounts together with hacky ebtable/iptable forwarding scripts may not be necessary for my teenager to browse blackboard but I do like to stay abreast of new QOS and other network managment developments.  Sadly, the time has come when ifconfig, iwconfig and route simply aren’t sufficient to administrate modern Linux boxes and I have to join the 99%.

Under the old world view, configuring wireless cards was a matter of configuring it to “master” or “AP” transmission mode to make the card handle frames correctly and function as an access point.  Only a limited set of drivers for certain cards supported master/AP mode like the the Atheros AR5212/5213 based Trendnet TEW-443PI card I have.  I had tried several variety of Ralink and other cards without success.  Some of the drivers used special commands to manipulate the cards, like the Madwifi packages “wlanconfig” command, but once it was in master you didn’t need much else to get layer 3 networking going, if you weren’t using security.  Once the card was loaded correctly you could give the wireless device an appropriate address, setup your firewall/forwarding rules using IPTables or other tool, fire up a DHCP server and the AP would be working..  Ok, so it may not have been that easy afterall but my classic ifconfig/route view of the world wasn’t fundamentally challenged.

Today, you can’t put supported cards in master mode using iwconfig, even if the card supports master mode.  Hostapd must be configured to get things working, as least for the new (new as far as I’m concerned..) wireless drivers incorporated in the post 2.6 and 3.0 Linux kernels.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostapd

Having spent more than 8 hours (ah, what I could have billed this project for back in the day but let’s not mention what I should be charging myself for this adventure…) fiddling with it I took the advice of my friend and installed hostapd and magically the card went to master mode and I was able to setup my layer 3 networking.

I had viewed hostapd as a authentication daemon and hadn’t even been using dhcp for the small controlled network I was using, and viewed it as unnecessary.  Now, if you want to get a Wifi AP working you *must* install and configure hostapd to get the card in master mode.  After discussions with my friend I understand that because of the complexity of implementing WPA and other security extensions common today (required by most Wifi hostspots) it was never reasonable to put that functionality in iwconfig or the other tools.  Thus one takeway is that Linux Wifi driver networking is fundamentally infused today with security at the layer 2 configuration level.

I searched high and wide for “master mode ath5k ubuntu 11.10 oneiric” and found nothing.  So in the interest of saving the next guy 8 hours of wifi’less wheel spinning.. listen to the young wippersnappers when they tell you to follow the instructions installing all these new fangled tools.. because as it turns out, Today, Linux wireless networking does actually “work out of box…”

On the bonding and multiple default routes discussion, I’d recommend reading Darien Kindlund’s Blog post on the subject at, http://kindlund.wordpress.com/2007/11/19/configuring-multiple-default-routes-in-linux/.  Great read, and may keep you in the 1% of fringe Internet network engineering.. :)

Last week the Japanese Ministry of Communications (MIC) released its summary of public comments (「周波数オークション導入に関する中間論点整理」に対する意見募集の結果 http://www.soumu.go.jp/main_content/000130290.pdf) received in response to its mid-term report that summarizes the discussions of its Spectrum Auctions Implementation Council  (周波数オークション制度の導入に関する中間論点整理  http://www.soumu.go.jp/main_content/000125430.pdf Japanese).  These current efforts represent a significant step forward on a topic that has languished in Japan for close to twenty years.  Much of the English language review of the topic will likely come through the filters of translated reviews and paper submissions at conferences as the process unfolds.  Acknowledging my personal bias and belief that auction theory has been very successful in many fields and would bring tremendous value to Japan, I intend to respond to some requests to start up my (English) writing again and follow this topic together with interested readers.  As such I will provide references to the original sources and reference Japanese terms of art where appropriate and helpful.

The report summarizes nine principal points as the key issues discussed by the council for the introduction of spectrum auctions in Japan including:

  1. The purpose of a spectrum auction program  (制度の導入目的)
  2. The scope of spectrum subject to auctions (対象範囲)
  3. Issues related to station licenses (無線局免許制度との関係) including: 1) status of auction bidders (オークション落札者の地位), 2) duration of licenses (有効期間), and 3) issues after expiration of licenses (有効期間経過後の取扱い)
  4. Status of paid-in amounts and accounting techniques (払込金の位置づけ・会計方法)
  5. Use of auction proceeds (オークション収入の使途)
  6. Relationship with the spectrum use fee system (電波利用料制度との関係)
  7. Treatment of foreign capital (外国資本の位置づけ)
  8. Topics in the design and managment of auctions (制度設計・運用上の課題) including 1) preventing surges in bidding prices (落札額の高騰防止), 2) ensuring fair competition (公正競争の確保), and 3) other issues related to the management of the program (その他制度運用上の論点).

MIC’s summaries of the 119 comments each include a reference explaining which of the above nine issues the comment related to.  Researchers interested in how commenters addressed specific issues can read MIC’s summaries of the comments by topic.  Many of the issues such as whether broadcast spectrum should be auctioned are hotly debated wherever auctions are proposed.  However, the lack of access to the actual text of the comments is one among many differences in how the Japanese regulatory process functions.

The object of the report, for example, is to organize the debate surrounding the Spectrum Auctions Implementation Council ( 周波数オークションに関する懇談会 http://www.soumu.go.jp/main_sosiki/kenkyu/syuha/41815.html) formed in March 2, 2011 to provide analysis and guidance to the Ministry on how to craft its approach to introducing spectrum auctions.  The Council or “Kondankai” (懇談会) is akin to the Federal Advisory Committees that advise Federal Executive and Agencies in the U.S. though it is formally a “private” advisory group  (私的諮問機関) that is distinguishable under Japanese law from the “Shingikai” (審議会) official advisory groups.  The codification of the public comment process in changes to title 6 of Japan’s APA equivelent in 2005 included an interesting provision in Section 40(2) for incorporating the input of official groups in the notice and comment process.  (This MIC presentation provides a graphical view of the flow of the process in Japanese http://www.soumu.go.jp/main_sosiki/gyoukan/kanri/tetsuzukihou/pdf/ikenkoubo_flow.pdf).

Cultural generalizations as consistent with Japan’s historical practice of relying heavily on consensus building entities as part of their regulatory process, but the use of study groups, task forces and other entities are often overlooked in both US regulatory history as well as current practice.  The Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub.L. 92-463, 6 October 1972) was passed in 1972 to address the lack of transparency of some private “locker-room discussion” between the government and third parties.  Of more than one thousand registered Committee’s, the FCC has many that provide crucial input to the policy development process, many with very long histories.  The FCC has formed many recently to respond to rapid changes in Broadband, Diversity, Media and other matters.  I am personally most familiar with the workings of the Technology Advisory Council (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/technology-advisory-council)  and the recently forming Open Internet Advisory Committee (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-9723.pdf).

The most significant difference remains that the formal possibility for direct incorporation of the “Shingikai’s” input may serve as a platform for the official policy development of spectrum auctions.  For that reason and the broad influence that the advisory group will have, this is a source to follow in the coming months on the fate of auctions policy in Japan.

制度の導入目的

制度の導入目的

If you were hitting high school in the 90′s and have any recollection of punk music from the era, you should see the film American Hardcore.  A very interesting retrospective on the things about it that were exciting and also best left in your teen’s.  Recovering from jet lag I found it on the internet for free on Crackle and had a bit of an epiphany.

The aggressive, physical nature of punk was something that was naturally exciting.  You could expect to have someone elbow you in the head neck or shoulders but shows were a physical exchange that existed because the trust shared between people jumping into and off of everything in the room.  Much of what I recall as a skateboarder in the scene in the midwest was intelligent, surprisingly respectful, but anti-establishment.

For me punk represented a rejection of a small-town mentality that would memorialize a last-place high school football team’s efforts on the front-page and relegate a national merit scholar to corner of the paper leading the obituaries.  The plain-spoken, practical and self-starter “makers” mentality was not foreign to the mid-west ethic, and the fast, loud, and sarcastic critique found a niche even in the farm towns of the mid-west hit by the economic malaise of the 80′s.  The wheat-filled landscape of Kansas literally changed as the collapse of the American farm ushered in new ways of farming benefiting from corporate leadership.  The plight of the young teen in urban centers was central to the punk movement, but the most significant impact of the music was probably seen as much in the punks that flocked to the cities from suburbs and the hinterlands hundreds of miles removed.

The film recounts the tensions in the punk scene rejecting or embracing ways of dealing with the frustration of youth, and I think is an important theme in punk in 80′s that is grossly ignored.  While the punk image in the minds of some is dominated by  the mindless drunk brawling, the film recounts the bands that totally changed the tone of American music, bringing to public view that at least some thought drinking and drugs wasn’t cool.

Punk was something I experienced from friends cassette tapes–no doubt carrying a long lineage of friend to friend bequeaths long predating my copy.  Friends and shows were the only ways to experience the culture until Hollywood picked up the topic.  I was always surprised to hear punk described as something mean-spirited.  The midwest is no Oz paradise and there is no shortage anywhere of the awful things people don’t discuss in polite company.  The punk scene I knew though must have been muted by the otherwise clean-cut, farmboy values of actually caring about each other and wanting to make things better if you could.

It’s funny now 20 years later thinking about it, and even more ironic that I was at a show in Redding, CA with Agent Orange thrashing in a mosh with a really cool guy I met at a steakhouse.  I suppose I should be happy to say I was a punk in high school.

The formation of free trade agreements and other international trade efforts are often hampered by points on agricultural policy. Some policy makers remark that the aging of Japan’s population and a related decline of agricutural workers will naturallly pressure changes in agricultural policy–perhaps facilitating trade negotiating. I am not convinced.

The argument is that the decline of workers both practically capable of agricultural labors and able to exercise politicial power will change the debate.

It is true that agricultual workers are rapidly declining. Most japanese can describe a case of a family farm closing solewhere in japan because no sibling cousiin or aynone else is left to farm. Young people who perform their ethical “oya kouko” obligation to their family often find it difficult to even make a family for lack of a spouse.

However this decline in the number of farmers has not been sudden. It does not follow that low numbers of farmers has impacted the ability to farm productively. Prohibitions on non-natural persons (companies) ownership of farms has been one barrier to more effiicient economic farming that comes to mind. However there has been a relaxation of these prohibitions and serious efforts to remove them altogether. There is also Japan’s stuborn refusal to seriously address connections between liberalization of immigration policies and possibility of achieving agricultual policy goals. Thus decline of farmers in Japan does not mean a change of policy is going to happy.

The other prong of the argument about declining farm family numbers relates to political power. Japanese farmers in regional areas exercise significant power by virtue of how diet members are elected. (Diet members are the national legislative representatives to the parliment.) However to effect how rural votes weigh in national elections, you have to have redistricting, and lower numbers may not naturally bring about redistricting. Declining numbers of farmers has happened gradually, and Japan has had many opportunities to resolve electorial districting concerns.

There is something else important to consider when looking at Japan’s agricultural industry. Today the decline measures and shows the total number of people working in the agriculture sector, but of the total only a small portion are actually farmers. The number of people raising the agriculatural bloody shirt in policy debates, naturally may not be granpa and granma whossit living in the hinterland. Like any market sector, interested parties can always hold out a sympathetic mascot to achieve political goals–even if they share little practically with their daily experience.

How can Japan or other countries balance the many complex and important (remember this author grew up in a small Kansas farm town) agriculture concerns with the compelling benefits of free trade? Greater liberalization is key but how to implement liberalization is naturally a throny issue.

Japan could deeply enrich its economy and move closer to finding their answer to resolving agricultrual reform by divesting the central government of regulatory power and strengthening their regional governments. In fact a model very much like the U.S. federalist model has been proposed in a bill in the last diet and past last month. This “doushusei” reform bill could be an important step in achieving better food. better farming, and better government in Japan. This observer intends to follow the reform closely.

I didn’t think it was going to be difficult. I haven’t been actively doing any content oriented web development since entering the practice of law (go figure) but I had assumed that the usablility of online web page markup had improved. There are some very well supported packages like php-nuke and others. I was looking for a package I could edit pages using database backed tags and upload multimedia or non-HTML word docs or powerpoints via adding a link to a page. For example, trying to manage my presentation and writing from my fellowship is turning into a disaster. There is the problem that I have files scattered all over my laptop’s harddrive with different revisions that I can’t track revisions for, but not solved without document managment packages. At a more basic level though the editing process seems to clunky for me. Mambo looked promising but its theme editing and multimedia file managment was too much of a headache. At this point I am just hand editing files and uploading them. I would use WordPress, which I’m using for this blog, but the WYSIWYG HTML editing plugin I tried isn’t working and it’s not really heirarchial enough. Anyway.. off to bed..

新聞などに投稿してみたいと思っていたエッセイだったが、帰国する前の準備などでばたばたしてしまって、、

近頃、思わぬハプニングがあって、しばらくの間、足が不自由になる生活を送ることになった。高校時代から20年にわたってきてボード系のスポーツや武道をやってきて、とうとう足を骨折してしまった。毎日の生活を通じて、東京駅には階段が多いことや、ホームとホームの間の乗換を考えながら生活する意識から、東京はまさにバリアーフリーになっているかを、身近な生活で考える機会となった。

去年から、私は、日本の中央政府の行政庁、裁判所、国会で研修しており、たまたま足を骨折した次の日から、東京高等裁判所での研修が始まる予定であった。その日の朝のこと、東京駅で山手線から降りて、ホームの逆方面までいかないとエスカレータがなく、通常の出勤の流れより余計10分をかけて、丸の内線の改札を通って出勤の終点駅へ向かった。霞ヶ関駅のホームで降りて、改札口までエレベーターで上がって、裁判所へたち向かおうとしたところ、日本の”バリアーフリー”の現状は、まだまだ厳しいものだと、日本の司法の中核のところでわかった。使えるエレベーター、エスケレータもなく、ギプスで固定した足の松葉杖で階段を上がるほかないことがわかった。普通、蔵売僧の方はどうしているかと駅の方に尋ねたところ、予め連絡をしておく方は駅の従業員が運んで行っているそうです。それは出るときのことで良いとしても、出先で連絡が出来なくて戻ってきた場合はどうなるかと訊いたところ、斡旋とした表情。病院で外科医院の先生に言われたことを突然思い出した。私が電車や公共交通手段について質問したところ、タクシに乗った方が良いと、質問に答えないで話してくれた。

しかし、2ヶ月以上に亘る松葉杖の生活を終えたところ、東京の施設はいろいろと足が不自由な方に対して厳しいと実感しているが、東京に住む”東京の人”のマナー、言って見れば文化の方が気になる点が多い。

初めて松葉杖で出勤した朝、駅に向かって歩道の左の端っこを歩いていると、反対方面から歩いている人は、あらとあらゆるところから歩いてきてぶつかってきていると、なにかルールを間違えて歩いているかと気になった。しかし、去年から歩いていた歩道にてのルールが変わったということがなく、如何にもルールを守っていない人が多いことに気づいただけのことだった。

私が左通行の歩道で歩いていても、時間帯などによって歩く人が多い方が歩道の”車線”を多く使ってもいいという暗黙の了解があっても人の迷惑になっているはずはないと自分の頭の中で再確認して停まった。しかし、左手に面している壁に沿って左側の「一車線」で一所懸命とぼとぼと歩いている松葉杖の人でさえ、平気でぶつかってくる人がいることがわかった。

群れで歩道を歩く人を抜けて、やっと駅に入ってほっとしていると、今度、電車に乗ろうとすると、先に並んでいても横から人がはいることもあった。しかし、それよりきになることは東京の電車に乗ってからの文化。

3ヶ月近く松葉杖の生活をして毎日2回電車にのって、毎月20回くらい通勤するということを計算すると120回くらい松葉杖に頼りながら電車に乗ったことがある。その中、席を譲ってくれた人、たった5人しかいなかった。毎回、車両の優先席のある場所を探して、電車にのってから慌てて電車が動き出す前まで席の近くまで行っても、ブロンドぱつに染めたお姉さんでもスーツ姿の若いお兄さんの前に立って、”席を譲っていただけませんでしょうか”と訊いた。

聞かなくても180なんセンチもある外人が松葉杖で入ってきて、座りたいだろうと思わないのか、いえ、思いやらないのかと思う。この紋は目に張らぬのか。優先席を電車で設けるとのはなしが最初出てきたときに、多くの人が反対したと聞いている。電車の全席は思いやりで優先する席ではないかとの説得力がある議論があったそうだ。どうやら、全席のどころか、今の東京の電車には優先してくれる席がそもそもないと経験している。

東京は日本の代表に掲げられているが、これは私が習った思いやりの日本ではない。今でも地方へ行くと、若い人は言われる前から席をまずたって譲ろうとすることが礼儀だ。相手がどうですかと言わせるところまでのことでさえ、失礼かと思われる場合もある。電車が動き出して倒れそうになっている人に対して、「座りますか」と聞いても、もういいでしょうと思われることは当然あるかも知れない。

若い人が座っていいもか。中年の疲れた人が座ってもいいか。妊婦、足が悪い人、年配の人だけが座ればいいということではない。電車に乗ったら、自分の世界に入って、人を見ぬふりで無視するようなルールではない。自分の見回りの人を思いやりながら生活することを訴えたい。

今回はこの足の骨折で思ったことにかぎるわけではなく、東京、とりわけ電車を乗る生活は、地方と違うと感じるところが前から多かった。電車を乗りながら「お天気がいいですね」、「すてきな帽子ですね」、「今日すいていますね」
などの簡単な挨拶でさえ交わしたか。今、挨拶を電車に乗っている隣の人とするとキチガイか。私はそう思わない。しかし、あんまりに近いところで存在が遠くになってしまった東京の生活を考えた方が良いか思う。私が米国の田舎で生まれながらこの日本で暮らしてきた一年を考えるとたくさん良いことがあった。しかし、選択があれば、日本の”田舎”と言われる違う都市で過ごしたかもしれない。それは、いろいろあるが、すくなくても東京にいながら、日本にいるような気がしないことが多い。東京を時々出て、東京の人も昔のような日本を一緒に経験されるのはいかが。

2005年7月上旬から2006年の10月にわたって、マンスフィールドフェローとして、日本の行政庁(総務省・経産省)、裁判所(東京地方裁判所・東京高等裁判所・知財高裁)、国会議員事務所(櫻田義孝議員)で”研修”する機会に際にして、家族と一緒にはじめて東京で滞在したことにあったて、皆様には大変お世話になりました!10月にアメリカ帰国してから、とうとう2ヶ月が経とうとしているが、家の電話がやっと使えるようになって、子供が学校に落ち着いてきて、少し落ち着いたところです。

最初の半年の間はブログにいろいろと作成・校正中の原稿をポストしたりしていたが、今年の一月から疎遠となってしまったのを反省しています。”日記”というような感じではなくて、ある程度まとまった原稿などのみをで書こうと思ったブログだったが、なんだか電子メールで原稿を提供したりすることが多く、あんまり活かされていなくて、これからはもっとまめに書こうと思っているところ。まずはお詫びからと思って、ポストしまぁしゅぅ、、、

私が衆議院議員桜田義孝先生の事務所で研修した際、先生が内閣府副大臣として担当していた「道州制特別区域における広域行政の推進に関する法律」(道州制法案)は国会に提出され、法律家または日米比較において大変勉強になる法案に関わっており、大変勉強になった。事務所または個人で作成した原稿やプレゼンを行った資料などをホームページにいろいろと載せております。HPの”WRITINGS (http://www.nihonlinks.com/writings)”のコーナーに搭載しておりますので、ご参照ください。

平成18(2006)年3月から平成18年5月にわたって、私はマンスフィールドフェローの席で、衆議院議員桜田義孝先生の事務所で研修することに恵まれた。秘書三人の事務所であって、朝8時から仕事が終わるまで、2ヶ月にわたる研修で立法府で働く秘書の仕事を通じて多く学ばせて頂いた。研修内容は、基本的に代議士に関係がある小委員会に出て議事についてのサマリを作成して代議士にブリーフィングするものであった。代議士は経済政策・金融政策担当の内閣府副大臣を務められており、経済政策や金融政策と金融行政についての各会議に出て、資料に基づく説明と交わされた議論で主なポイントとりわけ代議士が興味があると思われる内容をピックアップして資料を作成していた。事務所では、電話の応対や通関証を借りにくる他の事務所の人の応対をしながら、他の秘書の仕事を体験させて頂く研修となった。金融庁では、副大臣につき、重要な会議などに出席し金融行政についての主な政策課題を大分勉強させて頂くこともできた。監査および監督の法律環境や処分とされない行政指導や政策についての説明と意見交換も担当課の補佐という機会にも恵まれた。代議士が担当していた法律案に関わる過程にも貢献することがあり、継続審議となってしまった”道州制法案”を通じて立法府の立法のプロセスについて勉強になったとともに、内閣議員制度の内閣府の政府面についての勉強になる研修内容ともなった。研修は大変濃いものであり、代議士も評価して下さり、予定を延長するようになった。

感想

立法府に初めて触れた機会として、母国ではないにも関わらず、公務員の弁護士として大変ためにはなった研修だと認識している。ある問題の解決にどんなに頑張っても根拠法を超える行政作用が必要な場合、越権行為を犯さない限り、立法による改正を求めるしかない場合もある。行政で働くものとしては、立法府が少し遠い存在に感じられ、解釈と規則設定で物事を解決することに集中することが多い。しかし、日本では、行政は行政が守るべき根拠法を自分で作成し役所から立法府(議員・内閣)に提出することが通説だと理解している。健全な立法の仕方ではないと批判もあるが、行政は行政だけではなく、立法というところにも目が向くことがあるというトレニングは大変評価したいところと思った。例えば、アメリカでは現在通信と放送の融合や、インターネット化しつつある通信基盤と行政においての通信法改正の議論が高まっている。しかし、行政スタッフは、その法律整備で議会へ出向することがなかなか頭に浮かばないことかと思われる。行政と立法府の政策バランスについて、日米比較を通じて考える機会となった。政策担当秘書の宇田川さんの積極的なサポートはすばらしかった。私の能力と熱意を信用して下さりごく普通に扱って下さったお陰で、研修を成功することができた。行政などでは、自分のプロジェクトや仕事がなかったわけではないが、政策においての秘書のスタッフとして使って下さったればこそ私が日本の秘書のマインドを少しつかめたことだと思う。

“How Japan May Restructure Its Prefecture System on a Federalist “State” Model and Address Its Exploding National Debt, Economic Woes and Aging Population”

James Miller
Mansfield Fellow 2004-2006

History and culture make some words difficult to translate, but some words like “federalism” have a way of traversing cultures with changing economic and cultural trends. A new bill presented to the Japanese diet this month is poised to inject a fresh notion of “federalism” into Japan’s government reform debate. Federalism is a defining feature of U.S. constitutional government as well as keystone politically for Republican economic policy initiatives as well as a many Democratic social agendas. Likewise in Japan, the word “doushusei” is poised to pull together numerous structural reforms under a single philosophical swath. To what degree Japanese lawmakers and bureaucrats may adopt a federalist system is unclear as the diet enters its last month of deliberation on pending bills. Nevertheless, successful “doshusei” reforms offer Japan the chance to invigorate its government and economy, and at the same time provide a model for sound political reform for other Asian political economies.

While views on the appropriate balance of centralized versus regional autonomy can vary widely with the political issue even in the U.S., the history of Japanese political history from the 1868 Meiji Restoration shows regional autonomy have taken a back seat to centralized control and leadership in Japanese policy debates for a very long time. The “doshusei” reform represents a dramatic revival of regionally focused thinking last whispered forty years ago and politically dormant since the beginning of modern Japanese government. After this long tupor, the U.S. has much experience to share with Japan.

In 1868, the Meiji restoration ended a 250-year detente between the feudal “Shogun” central government and regional “Han” warlord powers. The sophisticated economic and political system of the Tokugawa Shogunate gave way to the highly centralized Meiji government that was solely focused on modernizing Japan through aggressive government-lead industrial development. This political transition was the subject of the 2003 popular film “The Last Samurai.” While scholars can disagree on the history of the movie and the role of central bureaucracies in Japan’s 150 year economic success story, Japan remains the second largest national economy in the world. Nevertheless, ballooning government debt, and a sluggish economy bogged down by layers of central and regional bureaucracy are a serious concern for policymakers. The “doushusei” reform offers numerous reasons for optimism.

Proponents herald many benefits of the “doushusei” reform approach. For the conservative American reader many are obvious. Attendance to public The most compelling being the reduction of the ballooning Japanese Central Government debt and increased oversight over central bureaucracies boondoggle public-works projects.

[small government,” means less personnel, budget and deficit.
area of power shifted is very limited,
there seems to be a big difference between federalism in the U.S. and
do-shu-sei in Japan
autonomy
independent, not only financially but also in terms of policy]

The bill currently before the diet proposes to move regulatory authority from the central ministries to regional autonomies realizing cost savings in the form of government streamlining and more rigid oversight. Initially the bill focuses these reform efforts in Hokkaido, Japan’s largest prefecture. The bill identifies the [cite the powers]. The scope of power to be divested to Hokkaido represents a modest first-step. Nevertheless, even these powers represent a significant achievement by lawmakers to move closely guarded regulatory authority from institutions with hundreds of years of history and regulatory culture.
The second focus of the bill is the reorganization of the Japanese prefecture system conglomerating the geographically small prefectural regions into larger, arguably more efficient, regional autonomies. Many of the functions of central bureaucracies focus on economic development of regional areas and represent a significant portion of the national government expenditures. In addition to the central ministries, multiple layers of regional governments spread across Japan’s small prefectures and municipal localities are also a significant financial burden and often criticized for being functionally redundant both in their regions as well as with the central bureaucracies. Reorganizing prefectures into larger blocks would reduce overall costs and improve the specialization and sophistication of the regional governments. More efficient and effective reorganized prefectures would be capable of assuming many tasks of the central government—a contentious point with central bureaucrats who view independent regional policy making as largely infeasible. Proponents argue that these newly reorganized regional entities will be in a better position to plan and implement necessary government projects. A hidden value to the reform may be that only regional entities will be positioned politically to make the difficult decisions to reevaluate and “cut” various public works—widely viewed as crucial to correcting Japan’s out of control public spending.

The bill’s ambitious vision is thus to create new regional governments that are capable of self-governing of significant regional issues while at the same time investing them the necessary legal authority to actually conduct their affairs. A brief discussion of the state of regional economic development and U.S. and Japanese constitutional law makes it clear why both features are necessary.

Firstly, the “Dou” in “doushusei” takes its name for the Japanese word for “state” and reorganization of Japan’s prefectures roughly into U.S. state authorities is the most dramatic goal of the bill in light of Japan’s constitutional structure. Unlike the U.S. constitution the Japanese constitution does not establish a federalist system with a national federal authority and state powers each with sovereign powers. Instead Article 92 of the Japanese constitution establishes that the organization and management of “regional public bodies” shall be established by the “regional autonomy law” in accordance with the principles of regional autonomy. In short, regional autonomy is defined in and governed by entities created by national law passed by the Japanese Diet. Through legislative changes to the “regional autonomy law” and other legislation, the Japanese Diet can (through the political process) define what a “state” is and what its rights and responsibilities are. The bill before the Diet outlines the shape and color of what Japanese “regional public bodies” may look like remodeled on a U.S. Federalist State model.
In contrast to the Japanese system, U.S. federal and state governments first find their definition in the U.S. constitution. While the Federal government has the power to “preempt” State authority within the scope of its constitutional authority, legal thought and a significant amount of litigation in both state and federal courts is occupied with defining the constitutionally required balance of these separate soverigns’ powers. Even the “federalization” of U.S. Law, the increasing preemption of state law in non-traditional areas, viewed with caution by U.S. conservatives, ironically reflects a balance between federal and regional autonomy. For example in the area of federal regulation, deregulatory policies preempt state laws to ensure businesses are free from a patchwork of diverse state laws and enjoy the benefits of deregulation. Irconically, these federal deregulatory policies place much of the state regulated activity under the purvue of States’ private civil law, e.g. the law of contract, tort, other state law.

Federalism principles contribute to another American phenonomen the Japanese government hopes to recreate—robust and independent regional economies. The geographically diverse nature of U.S. economy is viewed with envy by many Japanese policy makers. Unlike Japan where the majority of all economic activity is concentrated in one of three geographic areas, U.S. economic activity is widely dispersed. High quality new graduates in Japan face tough choices when it comes to employment. Top grads can find a plethora of jobs in the government or business sector in Tokyo or take a chance on going to a regional area where the most prestigious and compensated work is in the prefectural bureaucracy or the educational system. Divesting central authority and strengthening regional autonomy will allow high-quality talent otherwise stuck in Tokyo to return their home-towns to work and raise their children, sometimes more than doubling their quality of life with affordable housing, good schools, and locally grown food.
The synergy brought about by the influx of policy-making and regional planning activity, specialized professional talent can infuse the regional economy with financial and legal experts that have been viewed as grossly needed and in short-supply if available at all. Policy makers are well aware that this nimble and regionally focused policy making is crucial for Japan to respond to economic challenges of the increasingly global marketplace, and the dire social problems of an aging society and declining population base. The “doushusei” bill before the Diet is a clear area where U.S. can provide valuable insights to Japanese policy makers clearly grasping at how central and regional governments can govern in the best interest of the nation.