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ホーム > 市議会とは > Guide to the City Assembly 【 English Guide 】



Guide to the City Assembly 【 English Guide 】

 Japanese Local Autonomy   City Administration and City Assembly    Composition of the City Assembly   Roles of the City Assembly   Operation of the City Assembly    Citizens and the City Assembly

 Japanese Local Autonomy 日本の地方自治制度

 The Japanese local autonomy system is guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan. Local public bodies such as prefectural governments (47) and municipal governments (approximately 1700) are responsible for the administration of each region.
 The prefectures are in charge of broad-ranging affairs beyond municipal borders, and the municipalities are in charge of affairs which are directly related to citizens' lives.
 Because the City of Sapporo is a large city with a special status, some affairs and authorities of Hokkaido Prefecture are delegated to Sapporo. The City is one of only 20 in Japan to have this special status as a designated city. Sapporo has its own administrative districts.


 City Administration and City Assembly 市政と市議会 

  A Japanese local government body is comprised of an assembly (the legislative organ) to determine policies and an executive and committee (the executive organ) to carry out practical activities based on the decisions of the assembly.
 In the case of Sapporo, the City Assembly serves as the legislative organ, while the executive organ is represented by the mayor, the board of education and other administrative commissions. Both the members of the Assembly and the mayor are chosen by citizens through direct election.
 The members of the Assembly and the mayor are independent of each other and hold positions of mutual equality. Through a system of mutual restraints and in cooperation with each other, the representatives and the mayor strive to contribute to the sound development of city administration.

City Administration and City Assembly


 Composition of the City Assembly 市議会のしくみ

Assembly Members 議員
 The City Assembly is composed of members (four-year term) directly elected by the public. Every Japanese national over 18 years of age, having resided for the past three months or more within city limits has the right to elect members of the Assembly, and any person over 25 years of age who has the aforementioned right shall be eligible to run for an Assembly seat.

Assembly Speaker and Vice Speaker 議長と副議長
 The Assembly elects a speaker and a vice speaker from its members. The speaker represents the City Assembly, effectively arranges the proceedings, maintains order in the assembly hall and presides over the affairs of the assembly.
 When the speaker is unable to serve his/her office because of illness or other unavoidable circumstances, the vice speaker acts for the speaker in the performance of his/her duties.

Political Parties 会派
 Political parties refer to groups of members who share similar political opinions and ideas and intend to reflect their opinions in city administration as much as possible.

City Assembly Secretariat 議会事務局
 The City Assembly has a secretariat which assists assembly activities by conducting clerical work for the plenary and committee sessions, as well as conducting investigations and collecting the necessary materials for Assembly activities.


 Roles of the City Assembly 市議会の役割

 The City Assembly is granted wide-ranging powers, including the right to make decisions, initiate investigations, and issue requests for audits, in order to ensure that the Assembly has sufficient authority to perform its duties as public representatives. The following are the functions the Assembly performs based on such powers.

Roles of the City Assembly /市議会の役割




 This is the most basic role of the City Assembly. The Assembly enacts, amends, or abolishes bylaws, fixes the budget, authorizes the settlement of accounts, and decides on important contracts and the procurement or disposition of important City property.

Election and Consent

 The Assembly elects a speaker, a vice speaker and members of the election administration commission. The Assembly's consent is also required when the mayor nominates vice mayors and audit commissioners.

Examination, Audit and Investigation

 To ensure that city administration is conducted properly according to public expectations, the Assembly examines city administration affairs and requests audit commissioners to conduct audits. As the need arises, the Assembly may demand the presence and testimony of witnesses, and the submission of records.

Submission of written opinions

 The Assembly may request the national, prefectural or other government agencies to consider matters regarding public interest related to citizens' lives by presenting written opinions representing the policies of the Assembly.

Acceptance of petitions and appeals

 When the Assembly considers it necessary, it receives and examines petitions and appeals from the public and sends them to the mayor or other executive organs for implementation.



 Operation of the City Assembly 市議会の運営

 The City Assembly includes regular sessions held four times per year and special sessions held as the need arises, all of which are convened by the mayor.
 Regular and special sessions are held for a predetermined period of time, and during this period plenary sessions and committee meetings are held to examine bills, petitions and appeals.
 Although assembly activities should be carried out during the set periods, the Sapporo City Assembly holds extra sessions to examine petitions and appeals as the occasion demands.
 Bills are usually processed as follows:

Mayor /市長


Assembly members /議員

↓ Proposal of bills /議案の提出 ↓

(Plenary session/本会議)
Presentation of bills /議案の上程
Explanation of proposals /提案説明

Questions and answers /質疑・答弁

Referral committee /委員会付託

Question and answers /質疑・答弁

Discussions /討論

Decision by vote /採決

(Plenary session/本会議)
Report on committee's decision /委員会審査結果の報告

Questions and answers /質疑・答弁

Discussions /討論

Decision by vote /採決

Bills approved /可決された議案


To be implemented by the mayor or other executive organs



To be dealt with by the Assembly


Plenary Sessions 本会議
 Plenary sessions, consisting of all the Assembly members, make the final decisions. Plenary sessions cannot be convened unless half or more of the total membership is present.

Committees 委員会
 The affairs administered by the city are varied and complicated. Therefore, committees - which consist of assembly members appointed at plenary sessions - are established to discuss specific matters such as bills. There are three types of committees, including the Standing Committees, Committee for Assembly Management, and Special Committees.

Standing Committees 常任委員会
 Standing Committees investigate the affairs each committee is responsible for as well as examine bills, petitions and appeals. The Sapporo City Assembly has six standing committees, and each member of the assembly is required to be a member of one of them.

Standing Committees and their responsibilities /各常任委員会と主な担当事務


Name /名称

Responsibilities /担当事務

General Affairs Committee

 Comprehensive planning, city planning, public cleaning, environmental conservation, fire-fighting, etc.

Finance and Citizen Committee
 Citizen activities, citizen affairs, culture, finance, Ward office affairs, etc.

Education Committee

 School education, social education, child care support, etc.

Public Welfare Committee

 Social welfare, National Health Insurance, public health, etc.

Construction Committee

 Roads, rivers, snow-removal, housing, parks, land readjustment, waterworks, sewerage systems, etc.

Economic Tourism Committee

 Industry, tourism, the Central Wholesale Market, sports, city transportation, hospitals, agriculture, etc.

Committee for Assembly Management 議会運営委員会
 The Committee for Assembly Management coordinates all political parties and makes decisions on matters concerning the administration of the assembly to ensure its smooth operation.

Special Committees 特別委員会
 Special Committees are established when the Assembly considers them necessary to examine and investigate special matters. Special Committees determine initial budgets and examine the annual settlement of accounts.


 Citizens and the City Assembly 市民と市議会

 To increase the reflection of public opinion in the city administration, the following relationships between these two groups have been established:

Petitions and Appeals 請願・陳情
 Every citizen may directly submit written opinions and requests concerning city administration to the Assembly. The Sapporo City Assembly deals with petitions and appeals in the same manner. However, petitions must be filed with an introduction by an assembly member. After a plenary session decides to adopt a petition or appeal, the Assembly sends it to the mayor for implementation. The citizen who files a petition or appeal will be informed of the results of the discussion at the Assembly regardless of whether it is adopted or rejected.

Observation 傍聴
 The public can observe plenary sessions and committee meetings to learn how they are conducted.

Direct Petition 直接請求
 When citizens object to actions or decisions made by their own elected representatives, they may present a direct petition after obtaining a specific number of voter signatures for the matters mentioned below:

  • Demanding the enactment, amendment or abolition of a bylaw
  • Demanding the removal from office of any member of the assembly, the mayor and vice mayors.
  • Demanding dissolution of the City Assembly
  • Demanding audit of the city administration affairs

The seat which a citizen observes





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