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10 août 2012 5 10 /08 /août /2012 13:18

Lower house passes bill for establishment of special wards

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that is aimed at enabling special wards similar to Tokyo's 23 wards to be established in other prefectures. Members of ruling and major opposition parties voted for the bill in the lower house's plenary session. Deliberations at the House of Councillors, or the upper house, are expected to start in late August, but it is not clear whether the Diet will enact the law during the current regular session lasting through Sept. 8. In July, political parties agreed to unify their bills in response to Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's proposal to reorganize the cities of Osaka and Sakai into special wards and transfer some of their functions better fitted to wider-area administration, such as infrastructure development, to the so-called Osaka metropolis in a structure similar to Tokyo's, so as to remove administrative overlap. The bill covers areas with a population of more than 2 million, including a designated city with a population of more than 700,000, and requires governors and mayors to work out plans to rezone administrative districts. Under the bill, special wards can be established in 10 cities -- Sapporo, Saitama, Chiba, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Sakai and Kobe. Of the 10, Chiba's population stands at about 970,000, and Sakai's at about 840,000. Eight others have populations of more than 1 million. Osaka's population stands at about 2.67 million. Under the bill, those areas can abolish existing cities, towns or villages and establish special wards similar to those in Tokyo. Tokyo's 23 ward offices are less independent than cities, with the Tokyo metropolitan government exercising authority over such fields as water supply and sewage systems, firefighting and some local taxes in the 23 wards. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto plans to abolish the city of Osaka and establish special wards similar to Tokyo's in 2015.

August 10, 2012(Mainichi Japan)


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