The Cabinet approved on Oct. 21 a statement by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto expressing his determination to carry out government decentralization in line with four sets of recommendations made by an advisory panel.”The government will pay the greatest respect to the recommendations to make the central and local governments slimmer and more efficient to provide the public with better services,” Hashimoto told the Cabinet.The statement says the government will draft plans to implement the recommendations by the end of the next regular Diet session. A regular session usually starts in January and ends in June.The recommendations, made over the past two years, urge the national government to hand over to local governments about two-thirds of its functions that are currently delegated to governors and heads of municipalities. The Local Autonomy Law identifies 561 functions of that type.The recommendations also state that a third organization should be created to resolve differences between the national and local governments. Hashimoto said in the statement that prefectural governments should hand down as many duties as possible to municipalities to provide local residents with services that better suit their needs.

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