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Regional Revitalization and the Market: An Interview with Kinoshita Hitoshi

How can Japan revive its struggling local economies in the face of depopulation and severed budget constraints? Speaking from long personal and professional experience, Kinoshita Hitoshi calls for a shift from subsidy-dependent community development to a sustainable model driven by private enterprise.

Lessons from Hokkaidō: Coping with Rapid Demographic ChangeYamazaki Mikine

Four in five municipalities in Hokkaidō are expected to see their population decline by 30% or more over the next quarter century. How are they preparing for such potentially decimating demographic changes? A number of them have come up with unique solutions.

Liberating a Library in Saga PrefectureTakenaka Harukata

A public library in the city of Takeo has been revamped with the help of the retail chain Tsutaya. We sat down with the mayor of Takeo, Hiwatashi Keisuke, to find out more about this initiative.

The Winding Road to DecentralizationKitamura Wataru

Reforms aimed at decentralizing government in Japan stretch back almost two decades. But decentralization so far has taken a winding course, due to the changing political environment and conflicting interests. The political scientist Kitamura Wataru traces this ongoing shift toward greater regional autonomy.

What Type of Decentralization Best Suits Japan?Sasaki Nobuo

There is a consensus that Japan will need to thoroughly reform its overly centralized system of government if it hopes to reduce its massive deficits. Sasaki Nobuo, a professor at Chūō University and advocate of a new system of regional blocks, describes several paths Japan could take toward decentralization.

The Changing Face of Decentralization MovesHitora Tadashi

With the Liberal Democratic Party’s emphatic victory in the December 2012 lower house election, it looks as though there will be substantial changes to the way that administrative reform to decentralize power in Japan is implemented from here on out. There is a good chance that the discussion will pivot away from talk of expanding the powers of the current prefectures and municipalities, turnin…

Ishihara Shintarō’s New Party and the “Third Force” in Japanese PoliticsHitora Tadashi

Eighty-year-old Ishihara Shintarō has put the cat among the pigeons again, announcing that he will resign from his position as governor of Tokyo in order to form a new political party and stand as a candidate in the next elections for the House of Representatives. Ishihara caused an international furor earlier this year with his plans for the metropolitan government to purchase the disputed Senkak…

“Osaka Metropolis” Plan Faces Many HurdlesHitora Tadashi

During the ordinary session of the Diet, new legislation was passed on August 29 that enables the creation of an “Osaka Metropolis,” as advocated by Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Tōru. The surging popularity of Hashimoto has propelled an extraordinarily rapid realignment of the ruling and opposition parties. Still, despite the passage of aforementioned legislation, some party officials foresee diffic…

From Local Juggernaut to National Leader—Can Hashimoto Make the Leap?Machidori Satoshi

Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Tōru is one of several dynamic young local leaders bent on building a national organization capable of making a splash in the next general election. Analyzing this phenomenon in the context of Japan’s dual political system, Machidori Satoshi asks whether the charismatic, confrontational style that has served Hashimoto and his ilk so well at the local level can translate into success in the national arena.

Should the Public Elect the Prime Minister?Hitora Tadashi

The current Constitution of Japan was drawn up shortly after World War II. Over the years there has been much discussion of proposed amendments, though none have been adopted. One issue that is currently the object of increasing attention in this connection is the idea of electing the prime minister by popular vote. Until recently politicians have generally been cooler to this idea than the gene…

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