Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

So I'm getting ready to sue the Japanese tax office because they forced me to pay more than what I think is my fair share of taxes on my stock options. It's a complicated issue. I've already paid, and I'm try to get them to pay me, not the other way around. Anyway, the point of the entry is not about my taxes. So, when you try to sue the tax office in Japan, what are you actually doing? Well, the judge, it turns out is probably going to be a tax office bureaucrat who is doing a short stint as a judge. The lower courts have judges most likely to be transfered back into the tax collecting group in the tax office.

Doesn't sound good for you if the guy who is supposed to be "fair" is someone who has spent, and will spend the rest of his/her life trying to collect taxes from you.

Then, I hear from my accountant that some of the tax agency guys are telling people who are filing claims against the tax office, "Why are you doing this? Don't you know you can never win against the government?" They all deny saying this later, but I heard this from a credible source. Well it is true. the government wins over 90% of the time. Statistically, this is true. But to have the gall to say that "you can't win." TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE FOLKS!

I recently had a discussion about privacy with another bureaucrat. I said that I would not be nearly as concerned about privacy issues in Japan if the judiciary were more functional and I could go to them with my issues later instead of having to pound on the bureaucrats to try to design a "fail-safe" system. He told me that the judges he knows were incompetent and that the judiciary were not in a position to understand the issues.

Now, I won't say that this is true of everyone in the bureaucracy, but at least some of these guys really think that they're in charge and laugh at the judiciary and quietly think the politicians are fools. Totally scary.


I hope you are wrong and the judge in your particular case can be trusted, so you can win that case.

The Recommendations of the Justice System Reform Council of Summer 2001 tries to adress problems of the Japanese justice system. These are far reaching. One important goal seems to be to "Respond to Public Expectations".

There is also a section on "Reinforcement of the Checking Function of the Justice System vis-a-vis the Administration" in that report.

Sounds like Japan needs some participatory democracy -- as does the U.S.A., Australia, South Korea, Iraq, China and the list goes on.