With all of the focus on the arrest of Ichiro Ozawa’s secretary and the debate about whether or not Construction companies should be allowed to make official donations to political parties and candidates, the Japanese parliament seems to have come to a halt. Normally I wouldn’t give two hoots if the Japanese parliament had a back log of laws to vote on because it is extremely rare that Japanese politicians have anything of interest to say. But this month, I really wish that they would speed up their act. If they don’t pass an upcoming bill then your (and my) cheese bill could be 30% higher from next month, thanks to the inept Japanese parliament.
Yes it is getting to the stage where I am very tempted to run to my local supermarket and start buying cheese in bulk to get me through the rest of 2009! Why? Because if the parliament doesn’t get in order, focus its intended agenda for March, then it is highly likely that the tariffs on 415 different imported goods could go up by as much as 50%!
How could that be if there has been no debate in the cabinet about raising tariffs. That’s a pretty good point. The culprit is not in new legislation set to be passed, it is in old legislation that is about to end. Remember the fiasco surrounding petrol prices this time last year when the opposition party refused to let the LDP force through a renewal of their ‘temporary’ tax cut on oil imports? Well this is a similar situation. It seems that the Japanese government – in all their wisdom – designed their tariffs law (called kanzeiteiritsuho, 関税定率法) so that any reductions that Japan had agreed to under WTO would only have a shelf life of 12 months and that if the government didn’t approve the existing tariff cuts every 12 months then they would automatically shoot back to the higher levels that they had before Japan signed onto WTO tariff cuts. What ridiculous logic. Can anyone tell me how that came about?
Even though it doesn’t feel like it when you go shopping at your local Seijo Ishii (成城石井), right now cheese imports have no tariffs on them at all in Japan. However, if the government is too busy with Ozawa’s illegal slush funds from construction companies then from April 1 Cheese could all of a sudden be slapped with a fixed 30% tariff. That is a lot if you eat real cheese (not that torokeru (melty?) stuff they put on pizzas here).
Some other key items on the list of 415 imports include beef, malt, tobacco and alcohol. How many other vices could they be targeting? Remember, it is a recession. And where would you be in a recession without vices? So maybe it makes sense to stock up on a few steaks, fags, beer, and a lot of whiskey – not to mention the cheese!