|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
How do local governments justify their existence?
1995/10/22 Takeshi Ito Spa! 10/18
With an annual budget rivaling that of Australia (about 10 trillion yen) and a work force equaling that of Nissan (about 50,000 employees), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is by no means a small organization.
As part of a 10-page feature on inefficient local governments and their bureaucratic workers, Spa! examines the metropolitan government's 420 sections and discovers that many bear weird names that would puzzle average residents.
The magazine picks eight metropolitan government office to show how strange, mysterious and user-unfriendly their titles are.
The first section Spa! bites at is the Shohi Seikatsu Koshu Yokujo-ka (Consumer and Public Bathhouse Section).
Unable to understand the connection between consumer life and communal bathhouses, the magazine asks a spokesman for the section.
The official explains that there exits no particular relationship between the two and his office simply oversees the two areas because it was established through the merger or two previously separate sections.
Other section are also products of restructuring.
There is nothing wrong with the effort to reduce the size of the labyrinthian organization, but it become a problem when new names don't reflect assigned responsibilities.
For example, the Torihiki Shido-ka (Trade Guidance Section) could be dealing with anything, from financial products to seafood and groceries.
The section is in fact monitoring and issuing guidance to companies employing door-to-door salesmen and other possibly coercive marketing methods.
The Trade Guidance Section's other important mission is hidden by its obscure title.
The section is working to raise public awareness of the need to save more energy.
There are also odd section names which raise the question of their necessity.
A good example of such is the Kakaku Chosa-ka(Commodity Price Research Section).
The name clearly suggests that the section is investigating commodity prices, but Spa! questions the section's logic that it is benefiting residents with the publication of such data.
Everyone knows the prices, reminds Spa!, adding that booklets the section publishes are available only at libraries, consumer centers and other local government facilities many metropolitan residents rarely frequent.
Together with explanations of the seven sections with odd names, the magazine graphically runs office names under major metropolitan government bureaus to demonstrate how helpful their titles are to visitors.
We learn that the Consumer Affairs Division has three sections besides the aforementioned Consumer and Public Bathhouse Section.
These include the International Exchange Promotion Office, the Planning and Coordination Office and the Labeling Guidance Section.
Names like these, suggests Spa!, do nothing to assist troubled residents, but rather just give them the runaround. (TI)