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Japan creates a statutory round table for national, prefecture and local leaders to discuss reforming government responsibilities

The National Diet of Japan has passed a law calling for a policy deliberation forum to consist of several Cabinet members and local government leaders.

The cabinet members participating in the forum are the Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Minister in charge of strengthening local autonomy reform, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Minister of Finance and other ministers that may be appointed by the Prime Minister.

Local government leaders are the chairpersons representing the following six organizations;

  • The Japan National Governors Association
  • The Japan Association of City Mayors
  • The National Association of Towns and Villages Mayors
  • The National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies
  • The National Association of Chairpersons of City Councils
  • The National Association of Chairpersons of Town and Village Assemblies.

The forum is expected to deliberate on topics such as:

  • the division of roles between the national and local governments
  • the system of local autonomy; including local administration, local public finance and local tax
  • the national government’s policies that affect local autonomy (ex. economic and fiscal policy, social security system, education, infrastructure construction etc.)

Local government leaders were eager for legislation of this type ever since the national government reduced financial support in 2004. Since then, occasional dialogue between national and local government leaders had been held without legislation.

Note: the English name of the law is tentatively translated by the writer and not the official English name by Japanese government

Hotaka Kawasaki