“If the central government cannot reform Japan, leaders with something akin to presidential authority should take the initiative in reforming local governments. If reforms are undertaken simultaneously at a local level, Japan should change.” Leaders participating in the G1 Summit have formed the “G1 Summit Network” to undertake local reforms. They have listed five priority areas – information technology (IT), economy, human resources, declining birthrates, and education – with each G1 Summit member assigned to one of these.
1. [IT] Undertake Destructive Reform at a Local Level by Taking Advantage of the Introduction of the My Number System!
We should apply advanced information technology (IT) to the management of municipal governments. Mayor Toshihito Kumagai of Chiba City has been undertaking forward-looking reform, such as the introduction of a smartphone-based system, to provide residents of Chiba City with local information. Following the adoption of the My Number system, the reform effort has been focused on achieving a system that enables residents to complete administrative procedures without visiting the city office at all. The main features are: 1) all procedures can be completed wholly online, 2) communication with residents is made by email or social media, and 3) IT is used not only within the city but also to connect with other areas. It is hoped that the use of open data and the sharing of IT systems will be promoted by local governments throughout Japan.
2. [Economy] Develop Industry with the Startup City Promotion Consortium as an Initiator!
Launched under the leadership of Mayor Soichiro Takashima of Fukuoka City, the Startup City Promotion Consortium consisting of eight municipal governments has been promoting efforts to cultivate an ecosystem for incubating startup ventures in different regions. The most desirable model for Japan in the future would be one where autonomous and independent local governments compete with each other to come up with better economic policies and, through their friendly rivalry and competition, grow the Japanese economy as a whole.
3. [Human Resources] Share Databases on Specialist Resources and Needs of Municipal Governments on a National Basis!
For effective leadership, it is extremely important to secure supportive personnel. A system that allows highly skilled specialists to work on a project basis beyond municipal boundaries would be very useful. Under the leadership of Mayor Yuto Yoshida of Yokosuka City, the G1 Summit has been holding discussions in preparation for the creation of a “human resources database” to realize the exchange of human resources among municipalities and between municipalities and the private sector for the optimal distribution of human resources and the activation of administrative organizations nationwide.
4. [Declining Birthrates] Improve the Parenting Rate at Companies!
There are many aspects of the declining population and birthrate issue that can be addressed by municipal governments that do not involve them merely depending on national policies. With Governor Eikei Suzuki of Mie Prefecture as the coordinator, efforts are ongoing in the prefecture to establish projects by individual municipal governments to achieve specific goals, which are shared with other participating municipal governments. The goals aimed for include “increase the total fertility rate by 0.1% in five years” and “improve the parenting rate at companies.” The parenting rate is an index for estimating the number of children an employee (of either sex) of a given company will have during the course of his/her employment. It is hoped that a model will be achieved for increasing the regional population by setting “visualized” goals as shown above and sharing data as well as through competition for better results.
5. [Education] Deprive Authorities of Education Boards and Aggressively Promote the Reform of School Management and the Introduction of Private Management!
Mayor Naomi Koshi of Otsu City is a lawyer who is in favor of educational reform. Coordinated by the mayor, efforts to improve education in the city are being made. The goal of the effort to reform education boards is that education-related administrative services will be directly provided by the head of a local public organization and the superintendent of education will be engaged in education-related administrative services under the supervision of the local public organization. Efforts are also being made to reform extracurricular activities at school, including the use of professional athletes, and to promote cooperation between schools and external parties, such as private-sector companies.
What is important is that these forward-looking policies are also applied by other municipal governments, successful cases are shared, and efforts are simultaneously promoted in different places.