Government, Local Government
legislative assemblies, levy taxes, Hokkaido, elected governor, national legislation
Japan is divided into a total of 47 prefectures. In addition to 43 regular prefectures, including Okinawa, there are four special prefectures: Tokyo, which constitutes a metropolitan prefecture; Kyoto and Osaka, both urban prefectures; and Hokkaido, a special prefectural district. Below the prefectural level are cities, towns, and villages.
Under the postwar constitution, local units of government have significantly greater autonomy than they did under the prewar system. Each prefecture is governed by a popularly elected governor and a unicameral (single-house) prefectural assembly. Cities, towns, and villages also have popularly elected mayors and legislative assemblies. Local governments have authority to levy taxes, but they still depend on the national government for grants and subsidies. The national government exercises control over local governments through their fiscal dependency and through national legislation, which local authorities must implement.
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