• Kyodo

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A mountainous village in Wakayama Prefecture will have the joint-smallest assembly in the country, represented by only five members, it said Tuesday, in the latest sign of the nation’s declining population.

The assembly of the village of Kitayama passed an ordinance to cut the number of assembly members from six to five, effective in December when it is slated to hold an election. It will share the title of the village with the fewest representatives in Japan with the village of Kitadaito in Okinawa Prefecture.

One seat has been unfilled since 2016, after a member stepped down to become village mayor.

“There have been no immediate issues with just five representatives. Our verdict represents the reality we are facing today of a decreasing population,” said Kenya Katsuragi, one of its members.

“We have settled on this decision after extensive discussions on the pros and cons of lowering the number of representatives,” Manabu Kubo, who chairs the assembly, said after it enacted the ordinance. “We may revert back to six members if the population increases again.”

The village has a population of 440 and is located in the mountains bordering Mie and Nara prefectures. It is known to be the country’s only exclave, isolated from any other village or city in Wakayama.

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