(Provisional Translation)

Municipal Merger Assistance Plan (Summary)

August 30, 2001
Decision of the Municipal Merger Assistance Headquarters

Part 1 The Necessity of Municipal Merger Assistance

In order to maintain and improve the administrative services of the municipalities, which are the fundamental local public bodies, through utilizing the effects of decentralization, it is necessary for the Government to strongly promote voluntary mergers of municipalities so that adequate results can be achieved by March 2005, when the Laws on Special Cases of Municipal Mergers expire, and in accordance with the Comprehensive Program for Administrative Reform (Cabinet Decision of December 1, 2000).

Part 2 Policy for Assistance Plan Formulation

1. Purpose

The Municipal Merger Assistance Headquarters (hereinafter referred to as the "Assistance Headquarters") was established by Cabinet Decision on March 27 and is composed of the Minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications as its Chief, and the Senior Vice Ministers of each ministry as members. Since then, discussions were held at the first meeting (March 28) and second meeting (May 30) and examinations have been advanced in regard to the effective assistance measures for mergers of municipalities.

The Municipal Merger Assistance Plan (hereinafter referred to as the "Assistance Plan") was formulated as assistance measures by the Assistance Headquarters for new town development through the mergers of municipalities. By implementing this plan, the mergers of municipalities will be promoted, and the "Town Development and Unique Approaches to the Revitalization of Local Communities" based on "Basic Policies for Macroeconomic Management and Structural Reform of the Japanese Economy" (Cabinet Decision of June 26, 2001) will be realized.

2. Regions Subject to the Assistance Plan

(1) Municipalities designated by prefectures as merger-focused assistance areas
(2) Municipalities that will have completed mergers by March 2005

Part 3 The Assistance Plan

1. Assistance Measures for the Mergers of Municipalities

(1) Expansion of Local Administrative and Fiscal Assistance Measures

  1. Assistance Measures for Administration

    • Upgrading and expanding a local initiative system regarding merger conferences and introduction of a local referendum system. Aiming at the introduction of a local referendum system concerning the establishment of merger conferences as well as the participation of representatives who requested merger conferences (a bill is currently being submitted to the Diet).

    • Utilization of branches and subbranches, local councils and post offices Aiming at upgrading and expanding the functions of branches and subbranches of former municipalities and utilizing local councils through the participation of local members. Aiming at the positive utilization of post offices for the further convenience of residents, by enabling them to handle administrative tasks such as issuing copies of residence cards (a bill is currently being submitted to the Diet).

    • Increased flexibility in the designation of an ordinance-designated city In cases where large-scale municipal mergers are carried out or there is a request from concerned prefectures or merger-related municipalities, a flexible designation of an ordinance-designated city will be considered.

  2. Assistance Measures Based on Fiscal Measures

    • Special Measures for the Tax System
      Expanding the period when there can be taxation on a differential basis from three years to five years and establishing a special case of tax exemptions for that period. In addition, aiming at a special measure to allow an extension, up to a maximum of five years, of designation as a business office taxation organization (a bill is currently being submitted to the Diet).

    • Subsidies for Development of Systems to Promote Municipal Mergers Aiming at enhancing the subsidies for development of systems to promote municipal mergers as the projects to promote structural reforms of local administration.

    • Fiscal Measures for Merger Assistance Projects Carried Out by Prefectures Regarding road-related and other projects necessary to promote the integration of merged municipalities carried out by prefectures, aiming at assistance through fiscal measures using local government bonds and local allocation tax.

    • Fiscal Measures Concerning Public Corporations Regarding local public corporations in merged municipalities, aiming at assistance that utilizes special local bonds for post-merger projects toward expenses required for especially necessary projects that arise from mergers.

(2) New Assistance Measures Based on Cooperation by Related Ministries

  1. Developing Social Infrastructure that Supports a Comfortable Life

    1. Developing Roads (4 projects)
      [Main Project]
      -- Road Development to Assist Municipal Mergers Providing focused assistance such as preferential selection and focused investment so as to develop roads connecting public facilities within new municipalities in a short period of time.

    2. Improving Conditions to Ensure Convenient Transport Services (2 projects)
      [Main Project]
      -- Projects to Subsidize Local Buses
      This subsidy is for bus routes that straddle more than one municipality, but in the case of municipal mergers occurring after March 31, 2001, taking into consideration that they do not fall outside the scope of the subsidy.

    3. Development of Urban Areas (1 project)
      [Main project]
      -- Developing Urban Areas by the Revitalization of Central Urban Areas Continuing to allow merged municipalities to formulate or have a basic plan for the revitalization of central urban areas in as many merged municipalities as there are.

    4. Developing the Living Environment (5 projects)
      [Main Project]
      -- Promoting Reorganization of Public Lease Housing Resulting from Mergers
      As a result of the mergers of municipalities, in cases where public housing such as public lease housing has been reorganized, consolidated or eliminated, preferential selection and focused investment will be carried out for the necessary supply of new housing.

    5. Maintenance of Parks and Green Space (1 Project)
      [Main Project]
      -- Development of Merger Memorial Parks Providing focused support via the Subsidies for the Urban Parks Project in order to promote the development of urban parks which will be symbols and memorials of mergers.

  2. Creating a Rich Living Environment

    1. Promotion of Waste Disposal Measures (2 projects)
      [Main project]
      -- Project for Improvement of Waste Disposal Facilities
      Taking into consideration prioritized implementation of incinerators that can process over 100 tons of waste per day, which are necessary due to mergers.

    2. Improvement of Water Supply System (3 projects)
      [Main Project]
      -- Project for Improvement of Water Supply Testing Facility
      Regarding subsidies for projects based on cooperation between two or more water suppliers, this will also apply even in cases where water suppliers are unified into one organization due to a merger.

    3. Improvement of the Sewage System (4 projects)
      [Main project]
      -- Promotion of the Joint Use of Sewerage and Other Sewage Treatment Facilities
      In the case of a merger, promoting broad-based joint disposal with other sewage treatment facilities by conducting sewage projects to maintain sludge treatment facilities that more than one sewage treatment facility can use jointly.

    4. Promotion of Fire Fighting and Disaster Prevention and Land Conservation (4 projects)
      [Main project]
      -- Development of Fire Fighting and Disaster Prevention Facilities
      In cases where fire prevention facilities become necessary due to broad-based reorganization resulting from a merger, special consideration for assistance will be given.

    5. Improvement of Conditions for Information Technology (IT) (2 projects)
      [Main project]
      -- Projects for the Development of Basic Facilities for Regional Intranet
      Providing focused assistance in order to upgrade hardware aimed at standardizing and renewing equipment, such as terminals in municipalities, as improvement of the condition of information technology aspects required for mergers.

  3. Enhancing Health and Medical Care and Welfare Throughout Life

    1. Response to Nursing Care Insurance (1 project)
      [Main project]
      -- Assistance for Expanding Areas of Nursing Care Insurance
      With regard to assistance measures for expenses incurred for system integration toward extended association, taking measures for which mergers will be handled in the same way.

    2. Promoting Stable Management of the National Health Insurance Program (1 project)
      [Main project]
      -- Assistance for Expanding Areas of National Health Insurance
      Examining mergers in coordination with assistance measures for expanding areas.

    3. Promoting the Social Participation by the Elderly (1 project)
      [Main project]
      -- Assistance for Silver Human Resources Centers
      Taking measures to ease the impact on state subsidies for Silver Human Resources Centers due to the mergers of municipalities.

  4. Enhancing Education that will Cultivate Capabilities of the Next Generation (5 projects)

    [Main projects]
    -- Measures to Ease the Impact on the Number of School Personnel
    In cases where schools have been merged or closed due to a merger and where the number of classes and the number of teachers have decreased, taking measures to ease the impact for a period of time.

    -- Effective Utilization of Closed Schools Concerning facilities of public schools that have been closed due to mergers with other public schools, in order to achieve town development on a voluntary basis and on its own initiative, taking measures to issue bonds when those facilities will be improved as public facilities for lifelong learning.

  5. Promoting Industry Appropriate for the New Century

    1. Promotion of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (13 projects)
      [Main project]
      -- Comprehensive Development Projects for Hilly and Mountainous Areas
      In hilly and mountainous areas, providing assistance for mergers by developing infrastructure for agricultural production such as farm fields and roads and comprehensively improving the infrastructure of the living environment in rural communities, such as community roads and agricultural village parks.

    2. Promoting Commerce and Industry (5 projects)
      [Main projects]
      -- Promoting Commerce by the Revitalization of Central Urban Areas
      Continuing to allow the formulation of or to have a basic plan for the revitalization of central urban areas in as many merged municipalities as there are, and improving conditions for revitalization of commerce in central urban areas as well as for municipal mergers.

      -- Revitalization of Specific Industry through Accumulation
      Taking into consideration that no disadvantage accrues in the event when municipalities lie inside and outside promotion areas for the revitalization of fundamental technology and industry through accumulation and promotion areas for the revitalization of specific small and medium-sized enterprises through accumulation.

  6. Town Development by Cooperation and Exchange (4 projects)
    [Main project]
    -- Formulation of a Concept for the Future and a Development Plan
    Promoting the formulation of a concept for the future and a development plan that clarifies the direction of regional development while utilizing the effects of mergers.

2. Advisory System for Assistance to Municipal Mergers

In the municipality immediately after the merger, there tends to be a shortage of human resources and know-how required for planning and institution building. Therefore, an advisory system for assistance to municipal mergers will be established which utilizes advisor systems from related ministries in prioritized merger assistance areas designated by municipalities.

3. Publicity Activities for Municipal Mergers

By the measures below, each ministry will coordinate and cooperate to actively engage further in publicity activities for municipal mergers.
(1) Relay symposium held in 47 prefectures throughout Japan
(2) Symposium for Enhancing Assistance for Municipal Mergers
The "Symposium for Enhancing Assistance for Municipal Mergers" will be held in October 2001 that compiled the overall developments by the time.
(3) Publicity Activities for Municipal Mergers
Implementation of publicity activities by Government public relations and each ministry and agency

4. Information Desk for Assistance to Municipal Mergers

Each ministry will coordinate and cooperate to establish information desks in each ministry, utilizing the Internet, and in regional bureaus and branch offices.

Part 4 Efforts by the Prefectures

It is desirable for the prefectures to establish assistance systems in prefectural offices as a whole with governors as their heads as soon as possible during 2001, to designate at least several prioritized merger assistance areas, and while fully considering the content of the assistance plan, to take organized and active assistance measures by each prefectural office as a whole as efforts toward municipal mergers within its jurisdiction.