Some functions within the Cultural Affairs Agency and Consumer Affairs Agency could be relocated to Kyoto and Tokushima prefectures, respectively, under a government plan to be finalized in March, sources said.
Officials representing both agencies and local governments will discuss details later this month, including which divisions can actually be transferred and how many officials should be relocated.
However, the transfer of both agencies entirely has been ruled out, following opposition from bureaucrats and related organizations, the sources said.
Kyoto Prefecture has long lobbied for the relocation of the Cultural Affairs Agency, stressing that such a move would benefit the historic city, which boasts a wealth of cultural heritage sites and is home to cultural institutions promoting the region.
As a relocation site, the prefecture has already proposed the premises of a closed elementary school in the city of Kyoto.
Kyoto’s pitch has been welcomed by some central government officials in charge of the relocation who deem Kyoto a more suitable location than Tokyo for an institution responsible for the preservation of Japan’s cultural heritage.
However, it is understood that some Cultural Affairs Agency officials believe the move will only bring disadvantages and hinder communication with other government agencies and lawmakers.
It’s likely that the final decision will be left in the hands of education minister Hiroshi Hase, who oversees the agency, and regional revitalization minister Shigeru Ishiba.
Meanwhile, administrative reform Minister Taro Kono has decided to send top officials from the Consumer Affairs Agency to Kamiyama, Tokushima Prefecture, for about a week in March. During that period, a trial transfer of some of the agency’s functions will be conducted through teleconferencing and other means.
Kono told reporters that he believed Ishiba will also support the idea of a transfer. “I don’t think (Ishiba) will say no,” he said.