137 , 2017-03-31 , 北海道大学公共政策大学院 = Hokkaido University Public Policy School
This paper is one of the first and most comprehensive studies to investigate the meaning of the Abe II administration’s ‘Local Revitalization Policy’ and to review local governments’ reactions in Hokkaido. Based on our survey of all the local governments in Hokkaido during October and November 2016, this paper concludes that the policy has provided a chance for farsighted governments, especially for those experiencing a sharp decline in young people, to realise the emerging problems of a shrinking society and to work on a solution. However, the policy has also been so sudden and almost arbitrary that the local governments’ respective conventional systems were forced to work hard applying for unwieldy grants and following the detailed directions given by the central government. The results of our survey imply that the Central and local governments in Japan share discretion. The Central government maintains discretion in deciding nationwide policies and provides administrative guidance to the respective local governments, whether big or small and rich or poor, allowing them to formulate policies suitable to their own requirements. This is done while maintaining the Central government’s overall policy design through the use of informational, budgetary, and regulatory tools.