The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (東京都庁 Tōkyōto-chō) is the government of the Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. The government consists of a popularly elected governor and assembly. The headquarters building is located in the ward of Shinjuku. The metropolitan government administers the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo (each governed as an individual city), as well as the other cities and towns that constitute the prefecture. With a population closing in on 14 million living within its boundaries, and many more commuting from neighbouring prefectures, the metropolitan government wields significant political power within Japan.
Under Japanese law, Tokyo is designated as a to (都), translated as metropolis. Within Tokyo lie dozens of smaller entities, including 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. These other municipalities are located in the western part of the prefecture, as well as the outlying island chains of Izu and Ogasawara.
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.
As in other prefectures of Japan, the people of Tokyo directly elect the governor to four-year terms of office. There is no limit to the number of terms a person may serve. Unlike collegiate cabinet systems, where the decisions are made unanimously, the Governor has the authority to make policy decisions and enforce policy. As the chief of Tokyo, ruling an area encompassing 13 million inhabitants and a GDP comparable to a strong economic nation, the governor of Tokyo holds the greatest influence among the nation's governors. 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, which is roughly equivalent to the government budget of Sweden). The Tokyo metropolitan government also has relative freedom in how it allocates the 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 also be approved by the assembly; the assembly may vote for no confidence in the governor and the governor may order the assembly to be dissolved.
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 the Japanese
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.
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 the Japanese Socialist Party, which had been the second major party for much of the postwar era, lost its one remaining seat in the 2001 election.
The previous governor 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 Yoichi Masuzoe was elected 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).