On March 27, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Agency for Cultural Affairs is to move from Tokyo to Kyoto. Initially set in March 2016, the plan attracted a lot of public interest.
This agency is a small organization consisting of only 300 personnel with an annual budget of about ￥$100 billion (US$733 million).
Given that Japan’s political climate has always been conservative, it requires a strong will to move away from “Tokyo centralization.”
Likewise, Taiwan faces the issue of “northern Taiwan centralization,” alongside concerns over regional development.
The registered population in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Keelung is 9 million people, while the capital is the epicenter of economic growth and the hub of government agencies.
Metropolitan centralization should be considered an abnormal phenomenon and should be fixed for a country to develop evenly.
Relocating government agencies from the capital to other areas in no simple task, but it should be relatively feasible when it comes to deciding on locations for newly established ones.
It is regrettable that the Ministry of Digital Affairs, which was originally proposed to be headquartered in southern Taiwan, ended up in Taipei. It could have been placed in the south while carrying out its mandate nationwide, making the most of its digital competence.
A basic principle of risk diversification is to never put all your eggs in one basket. Can the Ministry of Culture move to Tainan? Can the Coast Guard Administration return to Kaohsiung under the Ocean Affairs Council?
Many government agencies need not be housed in Taipei. Agencies of the Council of Agriculture, including the Agriculture and Food Agency, Fisheries Agency and Forestry Bureau, could be relocated closer to mountains or the coast.
With elections next year, parties should consider these issues when drafting their agendas for presidential and legislative candidates.
Lo Cheng-chung is a professor and director of the Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Financial and Economic Law.
Translated by Liu Yi-hung
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