November 31 and December 1, 1998
Co-organized by the World Bank and
the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) of Japan
Abstracts of Papers Presented
Decentralization, Local Government and New Approaches for Governance: The Case of Japan
Professor Kengo Akizuki, in his paper on decentralization and local government in Japan, draws an informative picture of the structure of local government and central-local relations in Japan. The paper discusses the effects of globalization on local government and devolution of central authority in Japan. He sees the recent wave of decentralization in Japan as a response to the pressure from economic recession, demographic and social changes, and the constraints imposed by globalization on the central government’s ability to control the movements of information, capital, services, and goods. In recent years, attempts have been made to turn prefecture governments (the most important local governments in Japan) from national organs into local political bodies that are much more responsive to local constituents. While the new decentralization policy promises more dynamic and credible government for local residents, it also makes the implementation of fiscal discipline on each level of government harder. Fiscal prudence at national and local levels will be an important goal for the future.