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Perspectives: Tokyo assembly expected to set example with 'dual representation system'

Deteriorating standards among local assembly members across Japan have long been an issue. Just recently, 12 members of the Toyama Municipal Assembly resigned over receiving allowances for policy research expenses by creating false receipts, while many members of the Chiba Prefectural Assembly who took part in inspection tours within and outside Japan had repeatedly copied the contents of reports on their trips and submitted identical reports to the assembly speaker.

Meanwhile, a total of 27 members of four Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly factions had planned to visit Rio de Janeiro on business to see the Rio Olympics and Paralympics with a budget of over 60 million yen covered by Tokyo taxpayers' money. The trip was cancelled after former Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe came under fire over large expenditures for his overseas business trips.

At the root of the series of scandals unveiled at local assemblies, which defies common sense, lie cozy relationships among assembly members beyond their factions.

The "dual representation system" of local autonomies, in which voters choose both the head of the executive branch and assembly members in elections, is built on the premise of mutual supervision.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike refused to take part in an assembly custom of preparing questions and answers with related personnel ahead of the Oct. 4 meeting, while the assembly addressed head-on issues concerning the capital to reveal Koike's stance

Since Koike was elected governor, people across the country have been paying close attention to the development at the metropolitan assembly. If the Tokyo assembly can show what a local assembly should do and set an example, it could bring positive effects to the collusive structure of local assemblies across Japan.

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