Yesterday I finally went and picked up my 12,000 yen. This has been in the works since last Autumn. The current LDP government wanted an economic boost that would appeal to the electorate, and proposed a tax cut. Their partners the Komeito party said it wouldn’t help those too poor to pay income tax, and insisted on a cash handout instead. Twelve thousand yen – just over a hundred dollars. It’s nothing to get that excited about; I thought it would be better spent tackling youth unemployment or helping the homeless, and opinion polls showed most people didn’t want it! If it had come in December as was originally planned it might have worked a bit – I would probably have gone out for a couple of drinks – but bureaucracy meant it would take a bit longer…
People in smaller towns got theirs in the Spring but here in Nagoya the local government said there was no way they could organise a cash handout for 2 million people before August or so, and so it proved. First I got an envelope with a couple of forms and several leaflets explaining how to send off your application. Hardly anything in English of course. I think they were trying to make it as complicated as possible so some people would just not bother. I sent mine off and eventually got another paper-stuffed envelope telling me exactly where and when to show up to collect this money.
Waiting at the reception area was a security guard and a lady who checked my name and gave me a plastic token to hand in when a processing desk was free. There were 20 or so seats in the waiting area and 3 or 4 desks with a couple of clerks at each. I was the only person waiting so right away they checked my papers, got me to sign at the bottom and gave me a slip to hand in at another counter round the corner with 2 more people. There I finally got an envelope with my name on it and the money inside. The whole thing took 10 minutes maybe, but at least 10 people were employed dealing with this complicated transaction. Along with all that paper, I wonder how much the administration added to the cost of giving away 12,000 yen?
The ironic thing is if this does boost the economy a little the credit will go to the current DPJ government!