THE STRUCTURE OF THE TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT (TMG)
TMG and the Municipalities
In addition to the 23 special wards mentioned above, the Tokyo Metropolis also contains 39 municipalities—26 cities (shi), 5 towns (machi) and 8 villages (mura)—that are ordinary local public entities. The administrative and financial systems for the metropolitan government and its municipalities are the same as those for other prefectures. The government and its individual municipalities work on equal footing in performing their respective functions: the former handling the broader administrative work and the latter providing services closer to the everyday lives of local residents. This integrated process is distinguished by the following elements.
Management of Services
Firefighting Services, Waterworks
Firefighting services and waterworks are affairs that are generally designated under law as municipal services. In the Tokyo Metropolis, however, from the view that these services can be handled more efficiently on a broader scale and such an approach would also serve to lessen the financial burden, the metropolitan government provides all of these services except in certain municipalities.
As with the aforementioned operations, for services that can be handled with greater effectiveness and efficiency on a regional basis, the related municipalities establish cooperatives and regional associations serving as special local public entities, based on the stipulations of the Local Autonomy Act.
The number of such cooperatives in the municipalities is 29 and they manage a broad range of affairs, which include the establishment and management of waste disposal sites and incineration plants, the operation of public hospitals, and profit-making projects.
There is currently one regional association made up of all the metropolitan municipalities and wards, which handles the administrative affairs of the medical care system for the elderly.
TMG Assistance Programs
Each municipality is seeking efficient administrative and fiscal management through efforts such as constant review of service operations in order to meet diversifying demands, which include measures for declining birthrates and a growing elderly population, and the development of a safe and secure community. The future state of administrative and fiscal operations of each municipality cannot be foreseen, however, due to increases in mandatory spending, including child welfare programs and public assistance. There is even the possibility that some municipalities will face further difficulties.
The metropolitan government promotes measures aimed at tackling the challenges faced by the Tama area and the outlying islands, and also furnishes assistance tailored to the administrative requirements of each individual municipality.
The metropolitan government takes an active stance in promoting regional administration through various supportive measures such as financial assistance in the form of TMG-disbursed funding and loans, and technical advice to upgrade regional sewerage systems.