Sunday, February 03, 2008

Construction and political bribes' bypass

Under the snow coating, as today, Tokyo is such a beautiful city... but Tokyo is not always so magnificent if one looks at the architectural horrors accumulated by the time and city budgets with these gaunt, grim and desolate roads, hi ways, bridges, shuto and shelled buildings of a, sometimes, besmirched capital. The snow today hides ugly planners bad work of a city, nevertheless, candidate to welcome the Olympics in 2016, (time to clean up, boys!) Often it is a reason to despair of the "bon sens" of city planners. Why is it so I asked myself while I did "Yuki-kaki" 雪かき?

I then (emblematic) slid on this sparkling story of Ph. Brasor in Japan Times media review: "... Shukan Post ran an article on "useless roads," accusing certain LDP members of using the tax to "pimp" construction projects in their districts. Many of these projects have been named by local residents after the politicians who sponsored them. The "Nikai Bypass" in Wakayama, named after LDP member Toshihiro Nikai, is an elevated 15-km stretch of four-lane highway that cost ¥124 billion and has cut transportation time through surrounding communities by three minutes. The "Muneo Bridge" in Hokkaido, named after scandal-prone Dietman Muneo Suzuki, is a ¥300-million structure that allows vehicles to pass through a remote intersection unhindered by a stop light..."

"The most enduring monument to the tax is the three bridges built over the Setouchi Sea. The project was proposed in 1970, but studies found it would be impossible to pay off the enormous cost, so two of the bridges were "frozen" only to be "thawed out" in 1985 after the United States pressured Japan to increase public-works spending. Politicians seeking contributions from big construction companies quickly approved the project. As originally predicted, the project remains deeply in the red, and the provisional tax is being used to pay off the debt, which in 2006 stood at ¥1.93 trillion..." (nb: Pimp: noun, a man who controls prostitutes and arranges clients for them, taking part of their earnings in return.)

By far Shukan Post is not my favorite magazine, too much leaning on the bad side of the things, but today, under the snow, everything looks different. Click the title to access the article of the Jt.