In the course of the many centuries during which Japan’s highly centralized governance structure has existed, multiple ties have formed between national and local institutions, providing each actor with a precise role and inherent security. The relationship between the various levels of Japanese government is not as KLHUDUFKLFDODQGWRSGRZQDVLWDSSHDUVDWÀUVWJODQFHDQGUHFHQWVFKRODUVKDYH focused on its nuances.1 Senior Japanese political analyst and professor of law Muramatsu Michio points out the interdependence of all parties in regard to a common national objective, that of economic mobilization, and stresses the systematic exchange of information between different levels of government and WKH VHDUFK IRU FRQVHQVXV 0XUDPDWVX ,VKLPDUX 7KH PRELOLW\ RI DJHQWV RI WKH0LQLVWU\ RI/RFDO$IIDLUV Jichishô), who go during the span of WKHLUFDUHHUIURPWKHRIÀFHRIRQHORFDOJRYHUQPHQWWRDQRWKHUDQGEDFNWRWKH central ministry, is recognized as a practice that allows for coordination between all partners. Public administration scholar and professor of law Akizuki Kengo JRHV HYHQ IXUWKHU ZKHQ KH SURSRVHV WKDW WKH ÀQDQFLDO UHODWLRQVKLS LV LQ IDFW based on a conscious bargaining between the two, with the national government being stronger, but also having to foot the bill for local governments if necessary $NL]XNL

Given the complex connections between the national and local levels, the PHDQLQJRIGHFHQWUDOL]DWLRQchihô bunken) and the socio-political and economic processes it encompasses merit analysis. Decentralization is a multifaceted issue, intimately linked to a variety of aspects of Japanese society. It is thus necessary to break up this entrenched system to effectively transfer more political decision-making functions to local entities – a subject discussed by Ishida Yorifusa in &KDSWHURIWKLVYROXPH(TXDOO\LPSRUWDQWLVDUHRUJDQL]DWLRQRIWKHÀQDQFLDO relationship between the center and the periphery, the structure of which is anaO\]HGE\$ODLQ6FKHEDWKLQ&KDSWHUDVZHOODVDFLWL]HQU\NQRZOHGJHDEOHDERXW planning and related issues in order to allow them to contribute more substantially to local planning as André Sorensen, Watanabe Shun-ichi, and Christoph Brumann SRLQWRXWLQ&KDSWHUVDQGUHVSHFWLYHO\ 6RIDULWDSSHDUVWKDWDWWHPSWVDWGHFHQWUDOL]DWLRQKDYHUHÁHFWHGQDWLRQDOLQWHU-

ests and needs more than those of the localities – including, to some extent, Tokyo. 7KHQDWLRQDOJRYHUQPHQWKDVPDGHDWWHPSWVWRGHFHQWUDOL]HLQWLPHVRIFULVLVIRU example during World War II when it built new towns and relocated some military


Decentralization attempts at the national level and pressures from below, while having a long history, have not led to effective results, and the multitude RIORFDORUJDQL]DWLRQVchônaikai) has largely been co-opted into a strict national hierarchy, as Ishida, Schebath, and Sorensen point out. Citizen initiatives address PRYHPHQWV DQGDVSLUDWLRQV HPDQDWLQJ IURP WKHJUDVVURRWV OHYHO (YDQV These, however, are generally small, with only local input, as demonstrated by 6RUHQVHQDQG%UXPDQQDQGWKHHGXFDWLRQRIFLWL]HQVLVLQDGHTXDWHWRWKHWDVNDV Watanabe suggests. The government appears to oppose the formation of national PRYHPHQWV WKDW DUH ORFDO LQ RULJLQ VXFK DV WKH*UHHQ3DUW\ LQ*HUPDQ\$OO WKHVH IDFWRUV VHHP WR LQGLFDWH WKDWGHFHQWUDOL]DWLRQ LVÀUVW RI DOO DQ LGHD DQG D function of national government interests. The position of the capital city, Tokyo, is particularly relevant in this context. The deconcentration policies in Tokyo are not primarily the outcome of attempts to restructure the city itself and improve the TXDOLW\RIOLIHIRULWVFLWL]HQVEXWUHÁHFWWKHUHVXOWVRIQDWLRQDOVSDWLDOUHGLVWULEXtion schemes and a recentralization that has in fact accompanied decentralization SROLFLHVVLQFHWKHVDVZHOODVWKHGLVFXVVLRQVRIDPXOWLFRUHVWUXFWXUHIRU 7RN\RDWRSLFWKDWLVDQDO\]HGE\1DNDED\DVKL,WVXNLLQ&KDSWHU

The following sections examine the theme of decentralization and the recent growth of local initiatives, and how they play out between the national government and Japanese urban space, most importantly in regard to the capital city of Tokyo. An investigation of decentralization projects, and the discussion surroundLQJWKHPZKLFKKDYHÁRXULVKHGVLQFHWKHVKLJKOLJKWVWKHFRPSOH[LVVXHV involved. An examination of recent large public-works projects in Japan demonVWUDWHVKRZÀQDQFLQJRIORFDOLQIUDVWUXFWXUHVVWUHQJWKHQVWKHFHQWHUDORQJWHUP VWUDWHJ\WKDWLVUHFHQWO\UXQQLQJLQWRFRQÁLFWDVORFDOLQLWLDWLYHVRSSRVHODUJHVFDOH national interventions. Special attention is given to the particularities of Tokyo as a municipality, as the tensions between the national government and cities appear most clearly there. All of these themes come together in the debates around a possible move of the capital city function, which can be seen not only as a major decentralization initiative but also as a public-works project led by the national government. The construction of a new capital would mean a major disruption for the Japanese system, one in which various governmental levels are intimately LQWHUWZLQHGDQGHQMR\DPXWXDOO\EHQHÀFLDOUHODWLRQVKLSZLWKSULYDWHHQWLWLHV7KH GLIÀFXOWLHVLQKHUHQWLQLPSOHPHQWLQJGHFHQWUDOL]DWLRQLQ-DSDQLOOXVWUDWHWKHVLQJXlarities of the structure of the Japanese system.