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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 June 19 - 25  > Revised law giving state gov’t more power than local gov’ts in contingency situations enacted
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2024 June 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

Revised law giving state gov’t more power than local gov’ts in contingency situations enacted

June 20, 2024

The House of Councilors at its plenary session on June 19 enacted a bill to revise the Local Autonomy Act so that the national government in a contingency situation can be authorized to issue directives to local governments, by the majority vote of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Komei Party, and two other political parties. The Japanese Communist Party and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan voted against the proposed revision.

Prior to the vote, JCP lawmaker Ito Gaku asked if local governments can refuse to comply when the national government determines that “a situation that could have serious impact on the safety of the people” has occurred or is “likely to occur” and issues some sort of order to the local governments. The state government replied, “They should comply with the instructions.”

Ito said, “It is a system that will subordinate local governments to the national government in the event of an emergency,” criticizing the law revision for not only denying decentralization of power but also destroying local autonomy guaranteed under the Constitution.

He pointed out that the amendment to the law will allow the state government to even meddle in the affairs of local governments in an emergency.

The revised law includes a “special exception” under which prefectural governments are required to carry out “instructions from the national government for the coordination of administrative procedures”. The Minister of Internal Affairs the other day admitted that it may directly “give coordination instructions” to local governments, hinting at “executing power as a substitute” for them.

Ito expressed concern that the revised law might be used to mobilize local governments for war. He said, “Before and during the war, the absence of ‘autonomy of both residents and entities’ was a factor that enabled the war regime to reach every corner of the country,” adding that it would be unacceptable for the present-day legislature to promote legislation to turn Japan into a country capable of engaging in war.

Ito stated, “The national government should guarantee sufficient authority and financial resources to local governments and help increase their power so that the livelihoods of residents can be supported.”
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