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In the past, an important job of prefectural governors was lodging petitions with the central government to get funds and projects for their prefectures. But the nation’s 47 governors seem to have become aware of the political potential they can exert if they act in concert. People like Gov. Toru Hashimoto of Osaka and Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru of Miyazaki, who command big media coverage, seem to be a driving force.

At a meeting held July 14 and 15 in Ise, Mie Prefecture, the National Governors’ Association decided to grade the manifestos — or detailed election platforms — of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan and Komeito on eight issues related to local autonomy.

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