Regional coordination and its background: Should Kansai be heading for regional coordination like Vastra Gotaland?
This paper aims to analyze the similarities and differences between Kansai region in Japan and Vastra Gotaland regionin Sweden. We investigate the regional economies,the frameworks of regional coordination, and the degree of internationalization.Main findings of the analysis are summarized as follows. Firstly, the two regions have similar industrial structures and have experienced similar economic stagnation over a long period. Similar problems led to similar solutions requiring local autonomy and regional coordination. Secondly, the two regions both want local discretionary authority over the region. Regional coordination is one way to achieve this. However, the framework of regional coordination is different in both countries. The adopted framework in each region is related to the system of local governance at the country/prefectural level. Unlike Vastra Gotaland, Kansai is facing problems coordinating tasks between prefectures, and is unable to define the geographical identity of the administrative districts involved. Thirdly, the extent of internationalization in both public and private sectors is different in both regions. Firms and local governments in Kansai are not as internationalized as Vastra Gotaland which has the support of the EU structural fund.These facts suggest that while both regions are moving in the same direction towards regional coordination, they are at different levels of achievement. The achievements of regional coordination are affected by the differences in local governance. Simple adaptation of the same system as Vastra Gotaland would not necessarily result in good governance in Kansai, where prefectures have already a lot of tasks, therefore, Kansai has to find an appropriate, efficient and feasible framework on their own.
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