The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the national government to declare an emergency in seven prefectures. This, in turn, has put the spotlight on the powers and responsibilities of prefectural governors. Though often compared to state governors elsewhere, there are key differences.

What is the current state of the prefectural governor system?

Since the postwar Constitution and the Local Autonomy Law took effect May 3, 1947, eligible voters have elected prefectural governors for four-year terms. Governors are not allowed to concurrently serve as either Diet members or on local councils.