Japan's Local Governance at the Crossroads: The Third Wave of Reform
Local governance today is a contested issue worldwide. In the 1990s local or sub-national governance gained greater salience under the forces of globalisation, technological advancement, deregulation and administrative reform - all of which present enormous challenges to local communities and the ways in which they can be governed effectively. Calls for reform of Japan’s political system have featured prominently throughout the 1990s, as rhetoric and, to a limited extent, as policy. In Japan’s highly centralised political system, local governments have struggled for autonomy from the national government. The reform movement of the 1990s has done more than simply advance the push for greater local autonomy. It has forced local governments to begin improving their performance while taking greater responsibility for local affairs. Unlike in earlier periods, reforms from the 1990s have been simultaneously top down and bottom up.
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