"In a major break with the past, new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has introduced a public review of the budget. His party, which ousted the long-ruling conservatives in August, has promised to cut wasteful spending and make policymaking more transparent.
The review has gotten plenty of air time on television and seems to be reviving public interest in politics, which many Japanese have come to see as largely irrelevant to their lives.
'This kind of thing is fundamental to democracy. Before, things were too secretive,' said Yoshitomo Yokoyama, a 77-year-old retiree who came to watch. 'This is definitely a positive change.'
A survey conducted Nov. 21-22 by the Mainichi newspaper showed more than 70 percent of respondents supported the budget review.
Taxi driver Koji Iwano said the public review will bring some fiscal discipline to Japan.
'It's clear that the spending until now was irresponsible,' said Iwano, a 43-year-old from Saitama, north of Tokyo. 'If Japan were as careful as many mothers are about watching their family's budgets, we'd be better off.'"
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