elections are over. New developments are seen in the field of local autonomy which
stem from the Strategy 2040 on Municipalities. The government’s initiative
contains several points of concern that deny efforts of individual municipalities
to cope with the problems of the aging society with fewer births. Let’s look at
the policy carefully.
ON MUNICIPALITIES FROM THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications set up a research body to deal
with the Strategy 2040 on Municipalities. The panel released the first report
in April and the second one July 3 last year. The reports were conveyed onto
the 32nd round of the Investigative Council on Local Autonomy that
began July 5 last year. These reports serve debates as a basis to prepare
focused theme is: how to build up a society in which people can lead a
satisfactory life, keeping human dignity, under the condition of decreasing
population? Description of the government plan starts with a column, ‘Internal
crises of Japan
to be acute in 2040’.
to the policy, the internal crises mean that the junior baby boomers (those who
were born during 1971-74) will be 65 years old and older around 2040 when the elderly
population reaches its peak. It refers to three characteristics concretely; (1)
the Tokyo Metropolitan area will be older, absorbing young people, while rural
areas will lose human resources to support communities, (2) functional failures
in the employment and education systems due to disappearance of a standard
model of a life design and (3) urban areas will be spongy and infrastructures
workers will be cut to a half
these years the government has emphasized the Year 2025 problems in terms of
social services. That is a crisis theory on the aging society, concerning a
period when baby boomers (those who were born during 1947-49) will be 75 years
old and older. The current version is, however, about the 2040 crises, which is
beyond the year 2025.
proposes municipalities: (1) to convert a municipality into a smart
administrative body, (2) to maintain a civic life with official, public and individual
efforts, (3) to cooperate with neighboring municipalities for common management
with central government’s advice, and (4) to integrate the Tokyo area into a
governments are advised:
- to reduce the number of public workers to a
half through automating and cost-saving administrative jobs,
– the official sector involves in planning
and environment preservation efforts, while the public and individual do in
services, and the official sector retreats from services,
– cooperative achievements today are insufficient,
and so, a standard model of governance should be set up among neighboring
communities, overcoming the current practice that individual municipalities
provide services. The state government designates a region and its central city
that will run the whole area. If such a city is absent, the prefectural
authority will commit in.
– the Tokyo Metropolitan area (Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba
and Kanagawa) will be a single unit of administration.
from provincial representatives
were raised from the national councils of mayors and chiefs of towns and
villages in the first meeting of the local autonomy council. They pointed out: ‘representatives
from the provinces were absent in the government panel. As many municipalities
make efforts to develop sustainable local economies, an assumption is illicitly
made that small communities will not be able to survive before right assessment
Ministry plans to legislate in the 2020 Diet session. Such laws cannot be
accepted. The ministry’s proposal links with the policy of Abe government which
intends to introduce a new regional system in which the current 47 prefectures
will be reorganized into larger administrative units.
examinations are needed on the Strategy by those who commit in local autonomy.