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Getting Back on Track: Revitalizing Local Assemblies in JapanNakamura Ken

Many local assemblies in Japan are facing potential shortages of members. Town and village assemblies are especially finding it hard to attract young candidates, particularly women. To overcome this situation, it is essential for society to fully understand the important role that town councils serve.
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Local Governments Pin Hopes on Athlete Host Town Project (News)

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Municipalities are gunning to revitalize their regions by taking part in the central government's project to encourage local governments to host foreign athletes and staff participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. In the project, registered municipalities are eligible for financial assistance for exchange programs with sports teams from abroad and renovations …
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Slowing the Population Drain From Japan’s RegionsHitora Tadashi

Japan’s national government is finally starting to pay serious attention to the issue of regional depopulation. People continue to migrate from around the country to the three major metropolises, Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, where around half of the nation’s population is now concentrated. How major regional cities can act to counter this trend will have a great bearing on the shape of Japan’s future…
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Lawmakers Raise a Cup to Local SakeHitora Tadashi

A legislation movement encouraging the use of local sake and other drinks for toasts at official functions is gaining traction in municipalities throughout Japan. Most of these kanpai ordinances, named after the Japanese equivalent of “cheers,” have been passed following proposals from members of local assemblies, helped along by competition among local governments to establish a “brand” for thems…
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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.
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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…
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“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…
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Discretionary Local Taxes Gain TractionHitora Tadashi

Taxes independently imposed by local governments are in the news. The spark that ignited the interest is a toll scheme introduced by the city of Izumisano for the access bridge to Kansai International Airport, which is located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. Kawabata Tatsuo, minister of internal affairs and communications, has now given the green light to this scheme. Hashimoto Tōru, Osaka’…
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“Politics as Theatre” and Public Distrust of PoliticsOgoura Kazuo

In the double election for governor of Osaka Prefecture and mayor of Osaka (city) held on 27 November, candidates campaigning for a merger of the prefectural and city governments won both posts. Ostensibly, what was at issue was the idea of eliminating the duplication in Japan’s system of local government that results from the coexistence of prefectures and “ordinance-designated cities” (major ci…
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A Metropolitan Government for Osaka?Mamiya Jun

Ambitious proposals for a major shakeup in local government administration have put my hometown of Osaka in the national spotlight recently. It is the first time Osaka has thrown down a challenge like this for many years. Mayoral elections for the city of Osaka will be held on November 27.(*1) One of the candidates is Hashimoto Tōru, who resigned as governor of Osaka Prefecture in order to run. W…
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