Facing a shortage of new assembly members, a mountain village in Kochi Prefecture is exploring direct democracy and possibly offering a glimpse into the future of local governance amid Japan's rapidly graying and declining population.

Okawa Mayor Kazuhito Wada told the municipal assembly Monday that he will consider setting up a "general council" in which voters would directly deliberate budgets and other proposals. Okawa is the least-populated municipality in Japan.

He said his first choice is to maintain the assembly, but in the meantime he will study the possible benefits and drawbacks of setting up a general council.