Local Autonomy Law
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The Local Autonomy Law (地方自治法 Chihō-jichi-hō) of Japan was passed as Law No. 67 on April 17, 1947, an Act of Devolution that established most of Japan's contemporary local government structures, including prefectures, municipalities and other entities.
Local Public Entities
The classification of local public entities (地方公共団体 chihō kōkyō dantai ) (LPEs) are:
- Ordinary LPEs
- Special LPEs (incomplete)
- Special wards of Tokyo
- Unions of LPEs
- Partial operating unions
- Full operating unions
- Office operating unions
- Regional unions
- Property districts
- Regional development enterprises
Ordinary LPEs are the basic local governments. The distinction between ordinary and special LPEs is primarily relevant under the Constitution of Japan, which grants ordinary LPEs particular rights, including:
- Direct elections (Article 93.2)
- The right to legislate (Article 94)
- Citizen referendum prior to enactment of any statute which specifically affects the LPE (Article 95)
Special LPEs do not have these authorities except as otherwise provided by statute. While special wards are regarded as basic local governments within Tokyo, other special LPEs are consortia of LPEs for specific fields such as schools, waterworks and waste management.
LPEs are self-governing in many respects, but report indirectly to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in Tokyo, which monitors relations between LPEs, as well as relations between LPEs and the government. The Ministry generally approves all inter-prefectural special LPEs, while inter-municipal special LPEs are approved by prefectural governors.
Revision of the Local Autonomy Law
In January 2011, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced plans to revise the law to enable the national government to investigate the laws of the LPEs for extralegality and place lawsuits against them if they fail to correct their actions.