Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is not really known for his treehugging tendencies, criticized DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, saying the opposition party's manifesto "would increase oil consumption and have a negative impact on the environment."
The election is on August 30, and I suppose DPJ could still change its mind about this idiotic stance. I don't plan to comment a lot on the election, but this was too important to ignore.
Asahi: DPJ policies would raise annual CO2 emissions, think tank says
In its policy platform for the Aug. 30 Lower House election, the Democratic Party of Japan pledged to abolish expressway tolls as well as special car-related tax rates introduced decades ago as a temporary measure.
The research institute, located in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, is a think tank of the Coalition of Local Governments for Environmental Initiative. It analyzed the DPJ's policy pledges on the assumption that some of the people who now use public transportation systems that span prefectural borders, such as Shinkansen bullet trains and high-speed bus and coach services, will switch to automobiles.
Scrapping expressway tolls and abolishing the temporary tax rates would result in a 21-percent increase in car usage, the institute said. This would compare with a 36-percent decrease in train usage. The figures for bus and coach services as well as air travel would drop 43 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
With regard to trains, the decrease would be especially noticeable for services operating from the Tokyo metropolitan area to the Tohoku and Kinki regions and those from the Osaka area toward the Tokai and Shikoku regions, the institute said. The increased volume in car traffic would raise annual CO2 emissions in the transportation sector by about 4 percent from the 249 million tons in fiscal 2007, it added.
Breitbart/Kyodo adds that the DPJ plan would also mean that expressways will be nationalized. Note also that it will be up to our children, our children's children, and most likely also the children of their children to pay for all of this free driving:
Tolls would then be scrapped, except for some congested expressways, including the Metropolitan Expressway network in and around Tokyo. Of the roughly 37 trillion yen debt the agency succeeded from the highway corporations, about 31 trillion yen has yet to be repaid as of the end of March and it would be carried over to the central government, the sources said.
The remaining debt would be paid back over 60 years with long-term government bonds, according to the timetable. But this method could spur criticism that it goes against the idea that those who benefit from expressway use should repay the debt.
Breitbart/Kyodo: Expressways may be nationalized around 2012 under DPJ plan