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The abolition in principle of regional bureaus of central government ministries is a pillar of the DPJ-led government’s policy of pushing devolution. Of some 300,000 national public servants, nearly 200,000 belong to regional bureaus of central government ministries. The first step toward the abolition of regional bureaus is the transfer of regional bureaus of the infrastructure and transport ministry, the trade and industry ministry and the Environment Ministry to regional federations of local governments. But the Cabinet has not yet endorsed a bill for the transfer — a step needed for submission of the bill to the Diet.

The main purpose of the transfer of regional bureaus of the three ministries is to eradicate overlapping of administration between the ministries and local governments. The transfer must be designed to contribute to increasing efficiency and ending the wasteful use of funds, personnel and other resources. But the new setup must be capable of quickly and properly meeting the needs of local governments and residents. This will not be an easy task.

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