In its interim report, a government panel for devolution spells out specific fields in which the central government should transfer powers to local governments and calls for strengthening local financial bases. The report is a precursor of the panel’s full recommendations to be submitted to the government next year or later. The panel needs to flesh out its ideas and set a schedule for translating them into action in future discussions.

The panel says it will be impossible to revitalize local regions without transferring powers from the central government to local autonomous bodies and without ensuring their financial independence. It calls for a strict review of central government functions and more authority for local governments, including allowing local governments to do more than required under law if necessary. It says the central government must stop imposing standards on services and facilities unless they are intended to protect people’s lives.

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