Vision Establishing a New Large City System

We are dedicated to creating a new large city system of “special cities.”

Issues of the Current Designated Cities System

Compared to other cities, designated cities handle a wider range of administrative work. However, the current system is insufficient in terms of being able to efficiently and effectively resolve the many complex and varied issues that are unique to large cities, and provide ample government services.

Issue 1

Redundancies and Overlap in the Administrative Authority and Responsibilities of Designated Cities and Prefectures

Administrative work and authority are divided among designated cities and prefectures, which means the counters for services are scattered across multiple authorities and it takes excess time to process such work. These kinds of inefficiencies are occurring in many and varied fields, including child-rearing support, welfare, health and hygiene, and river management.
These inefficiencies must be eliminated by centralizing similar administrative tasks and authority in designated cities while also providing detailed government services designed to better suit the needs of citizens.

Issue 2

Tax Revenue Sources do not Keep Pace with the Roles and Workload of Designated Cities

In addition to general municipal administration, a designated city handles many types of administrative work in place of prefectures, including health care centers and public works offices. There needs to be a review of tax revenue allocation, so that each designated city receives the funding it needs for this type of special administrative work that a large city must perform.

Our Solution to Issues of the Designated Cities System: The “Special Cities” System

The Japan Designated Cities Mayors Association (JDCMA) is aiming for the early realization of a diversified large city system, in which each large city can select an appropriate system that suits the actual circumstances of the area, from either a designated cities system, special ward establishment system, or special city system.

A system for establishing special wards to reorganize administrative work and funding and eliminate inefficiencies has already been legislated. This system will abolish designated cities and realign them into special wards, which will be lead by publicly elected ward mayors and handle the government services that are closely connected to citizens. The government services in wide areas will be handled by the wide area municipalities.

As for the special city system, which eliminates duplicate administration by setting up a new one-tier system of local municipalities that will be based on basic municipalities and be outside the prefectural areas, although the significance of such an initiative was acknowledged at the 2013 research council for the review of Japan’s local government system, the issues were indicated and it was agreed that corresponding measures and action are required.

Overview of Special Cities

The JDCMA is aiming to set up special cities, as one-tier local governments that are not included in wide area municipalities.
These special cities will be legally positioned as new governments, namely special local governments, that are neither municipalities (basic local governments) as stipulated in the current Local Autonomy Act or prefectures (wide area local governments). These new special local governments will process the administrative work handled by the current designated cities and the administrative work handled by prefectures within the areas of the designated cities (excluding the liaison, coordination, and supplementary administrative work between the inclusive municipalities).
These special cities are a one-tier system, and so while they will not liaise and coordinate with or do the supplementary work of the inclusive municipalities of prefectures, they will play a central role in communications with other basic municipalities in the surrounding areas.

Benefits of transitioning to special self-governing cities