A bill was approved today by Japan’s House of Representatives that will see prefectures other than Tokyo given the ability to create special wards, just like the 23 in the Japanese capital. It will begin with the elimination of the city of Osaka, and instead see the prefecture recognized as a single metropolis divided into eight or nine wards. Osaka’s Mayor Toru Hashimoto has called for this recognition for some time, and plans to put the reorganization of Japan’s second largest city into effect in 2015.
The bill still has to be approved by the Upper House, however with majority support from most opposing parties, it is expected to be passed into law, but it’s unknown exactly when. Not just limited to Osaka, the bill covers areas that have a population of at least 2 million, with a large city of at least 700,000. This gives some of Japan’s other major cities like Nagoya, Kyoto, Sapporo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Kobe the choice of establishing wards as well, as long as both mayors and governors agree to work out the administrative reforms together.
The significance of the option for reorganization is that operations like taxing, water supply, sewage systems, development, police and firefighting can all be consolidated and better fitted to a wider area. Wards have less independence than individual cities, but they are all equally maintained by a single metropolitan governing authority.
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