This is the 70th year since the concept of local autonomy was introduced in Japan under the Constitution. Both the national and local governments should be reminded that local autonomy is an important and essential heritage of the postwar political and legal transformation. Serious efforts need to be made to bolster local governments financially and otherwise, and improve the well-being of their residents in the face of population flight and aging.

Chapter VIII of the postwar Constitution deals with “local self-government.” The Local Autonomy Law took effect on the same day the Constitution entered into force on May 3, 1947. Under the preceding Meiji Constitution, which had no provision for local self-government, the national government appointed prefectural governors. The postwar system abolished that practice and introduced the direct election of governors and mayors while expanding the electorate, especially to include women, to vote on local assembly members.

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