Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Tokyo Metropolitan Government

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is headed by a publicly elected governor and metropolitan assembly. The headquarters building is in the ward of Shinjuku. They govern all of Tokyo prefecture, including lakes, rivers, dams, farms, remote islands, and national parks in addition to its famous neon jungle, skyscrapers and crowded subways. The governor of Tokyo is one of most powerful political figures in Japan, second only to the prime minister.[1] As in all prefectures, the governor is elected every four years directly by the people; he heads the administration and has the right to initiate and veto legislation. Legislation, the budget and the confirmation of important administrative appointments – including the (in Tokyo: four) vice-governors – are handled by the prefectural assembly that is elected to four-year terms by single non-transferable vote in multi- and single-member districts.

Under Japanese law, Tokyo is designated as a to (都), translated as metropolis.[2] Within Tokyo lie dozens of smaller entities, most of them conventionally referred to as cities. It includes twenty-three special wards (特別区 -ku) which until 1943 made up the city of Tokyo but which now have individual local governments, each with a leader and a council. In addition to these 23 local governments, Tokyo also encompasses 26 cities (市 -shi), five towns (町 -chō or machi), and eight villages (村 -son or -mura), each of which has a local government.


  • National representation 1
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly 2
  • Governor 3
    • Appointed governors of Tokyo Prefecture (1868-1943) 3.1
    • Appointed governors of Tokyo Metropolis (1943-1947) 3.2
    • Elected governors of Tokyo Metropolis (1947-present) 3.3
  • Political Parties and Elections 4
    • Latest elections 4.1
    • Past elections 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

National representation

Tokyo sends 25 directly elected Representatives to the House of Representatives and a total of ten Councillors (five per election) to the House of Councillors. Additional members from Tokyo may be elected by proportional representation in both Houses; for the House of Representatives Tokyo forms one proportional representation constituency of its own.

In the 2012 Representatives election, Tokyo's districts directly elected 21 Liberal Democrats and two Democrats, Kōmeitō and Your Party won one seat each. After the 2010 and 2013 Councillors elections, Tokyo is represented in the upper house by three Liberal Democrats, two Democrats, two Kōmeitō members, one Communist, one member of Your Party and one independent.

Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly

The Metropolitan Assembly is the legislative organ of the whole prefecture of Tokyo. It consists of 127 members elected each four years. Regular sessions are held four times each year, in February, June, September and December. These sessions typically lasts for 30 days. Between these are plenary sessions where discussions on bills are held.[3]


As in other prefectures of Japan, Tokyo has a governor elected to four-year terms of office. In contrast to other prefectures, the governor of Tokyo has a relatively important role given the size of Tokyo's budget (13 trillion yen as of 2014, roughly equivalent to the government budget of Sweden) and the relative freedom with which the Tokyo metropolitan government can allocate that budget (as it is not subject to national government subsidies which other prefectures receive). The governor is responsible for approving the metropolitan budget, which must be approved by the assembly; the assembly may vote no confidence in the governor and the governor may order the assembly to be dissolved.[4]

Naoki Inose was the most recent elected governor of Tokyo until his resignation in December 2013.[5]

Karasumaru Mitsue served as the first prefectural governor of Edo Prefecture in 1868; the prefecture was named Tokyo several months later and Karasumaru continued to serve as the first governor of Tokyo.

From 1898 to 1943, Tokyo City had a mayor like all other cities, towns and villages in Tokyo. Before 1898, the prefectural governor, who was appointed by the central government, automatically served as mayor of Tokyo City. And in WWII, Tokyo City was dissolved, again giving the appointed prefectural (since called "Metropolitan") government direct control over Tokyo City. Since the occupation, prefectural governors are elected by the people, and the area of former Tokyo City has been reorganized in quasi-municipal special wards.

Appointed governors of Tokyo Prefecture (1868-1943)

partial list

Appointed governors of Tokyo Metropolis (1943-1947)

Elected governors of Tokyo Metropolis (1947-present)

Political Parties and Elections

Tokyo's population consists largely of swing voters who are not loyal to any one political party. Tokyoites tend to vote for independent candidates with name recognition or in response to hot-button issues, and have been less susceptible to pork-barrel spending and other "machine" style politics than voters elsewhere in Japan.[6]

With the early elections for the Metropolitan Assembly in 1965 due to a corruption scandal, Tokyo became the first prefecture not to hold its assembly elections in the unified local elections (tōitsu chihō senkyo) when prefectural and municipal elections throughout the country take place in April every four years since 1947; by 2011, it was one of six prefectures not to do so, the others being Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Okinawa. Tokyo's gubernatorial elections had always been held as part of the unified local elections from 1947 to 2011. But following Shintarō Ishihara's resignation in October 2012, Tokyo held an early gubernatorial election in December 2012 and has left the unified election cycle.

The four largest established national political parties of the past decade (Liberal Democrats, Democrats, Kōmeitō, Communists) are represented in the Tokyo Assembly. The Social Democratic Party, formerly Japanese Socialist Party, which had been the second major party for much of the postwar era lost its one remaining seat[7] in the 2001 election.

Latest elections

The last gubernatorial election took place in December 2012. Naoki Inose, endorsed by LDP, Kōmeitō and JRP, won roughly two-thirds of the vote in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, 2012. Inose resigned in December 2013 and his successor will be chosen in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, 2014.

The last assembly election was held in June 2013. The LDP won 36% of the vote and 59 of 127 seats in the Tokyo prefectural election, 2013. In the previous election of 2009, the Democratic Party had managed to become strongest party after forty years of LDP dominance. In 2012, the DPJ was reduced to fourth party with 15 seats (15.2% of the vote) as the Kōmeitō won 23 seats (14.1% of the vote) and Communists 17 seats (13.6% of the vote).

Past elections

See also


  1. ^ Fukada, Takahiro, "The second-most powerful job", Japan Times, 8 February 2011, p. 3.
  2. ^ "Local Government in Japan" (PDF). Council of Local Authorities for International Relations. p. 41. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  3. ^ Functions of the Metropolitan Assembly
  4. ^ "都知事の権限・役割は? (Q&A)". 日本経済新聞. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  5. ^ National Governors Association: List of current governors (in Japanese; English version, updated less frequently)
  6. ^ Yoshida, Reiji (10 January 2014). "Any Hosokawa presence in Tokyo race bad for Abe". The Japan Times. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  7. ^ The Japan Times, June 25, 2001: LDP wins big in Tokyo assembly election. Koizumi gets resounding vote of confidence.

External links

  • Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government
  • Tokyo electoral commission: Local election schedule, 2013, Expiry dates of all prefectural and municipal mandates for chief executives (governor/mayors) and assemblies in Tokyo and the national Diet (also lists incumbent chief executives and number of assembly members) (in Japanese)