Functions of the Metropolitan Assembly


Building of Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly

The Metropolitan Assembly of Tokyo was organized in 1943, following the formation of Metropolis of Tokyo as a result of the merger of Tokyo-fu (prefecture) and Tokyo-shi (city) earlier in the year. In May 1947, when the Local Autonomy Law was enacted based on the current constitution of Japan, the Assembly was positioned as a legislative organ of the local autonomy entity with functions it has now.

At the time, various systems necessary for promoting democratic local autonomy were introduced (including setting up standing committees and special committees, granting the right to submit legislative bills and the right to inspect administrative affairs of the metropolitan government to the Assembly members). The parliamentary system was gradually improved thereafter through several amendments of the Local Autonomy Law.

Organization of the Assembly

Assembly members

The Metropolitan Assembly consists of Assembly members elected by citizens of Tokyo.

Election of Assembly members
Tokyo has 42 electoral districts and one to eight Assembly members are elected in proportion to the population of the district.

Candidates are required to satisfy the conditions indicated below:

  • He/she must be of Japanese nationality.
  • He/she must be at least 25 years old.
  • He/she must have resided in the municipality for at least three months.

Eligibility for election is terminated for individuals sentenced to imprisonment or more sever punishment until implementation of such sentence is completed (or the individual sentenced is no longer able to endure the sentence). Time restrictions on the eligibility of election are also imposed on individuals found guilty of offences against the provisions of the Public Offices Election Law and the Political Funds Control Law.

Number of Seats and terms of Assembly members
The number of members composing Municipal Assemblies is specified in the ordinances of the local public entities. In the case of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, the number and terms are 127 seats and four years, respectively.
President and Vice-President

One President and one Vice-President are elected from among its members.

The President represents the Assembly externally, presides over its plenary sessions to operate them smoothly and maintain order in the parliament. The President also controls and supervises the bureau directors in handling of administrative affairs relating to the Assembly. The Vice-President takes the President's responsibilities in his/her absence, or in the event the President is incapable of assuming his/her duties.

Although the terms of the President and Vice-President are stipulated as “depending on the tenure of the Assembly membership”, they are entitled to resign upon approval of the Assembly.

Factions (political parties)

A Group of Assembly members who share the same policies and political strategies comes together in order to realize them and submitted the formation of such a group to the Assembly is basically referred to as a “faction.” As in the case of the Japanese parliament, parliamentary activities are centered on these factions. In principal, every Assembly member belongs to a certain faction, and support or non-support for the submitted bills is determined by each faction.

Rights of the Assembly

The Metropolitan Assembly is the legislative organ for the local public entity of Tokyo and is granted rights to decide the primary issues of the entity. The major rights granted to the Assembly are as indicated below:

Rights to vote

The right to vote is the fundamental right of the Assembly, and is a way for the entity to make decisions. The Governor is not entitled to execute any major projects without the approval of the Assembly, expressed in the form of a vote. Issues calling for a vote of the Assembly are as set forth within the provisions of the Local Autonomy Law.

Primary issues subject to voting by the Assembly are as indicated below:

Formulation, amendment and abolishment of ordinances
“Ordinances” are, in a sense, “Laws in (the region under the jurisdiction of) the municipality of Tokyo.” Some of the provisions laid out in the ordinances restrict the rights of citizens or enforce certain duties upon them. Fares for municipally operated subways and buses and various loan programs are also defined in the ordinances.
Approval of municipal budget
“Budget” is an estimate of annual revenue and expenditures of an entity. The municipal budget is proposed by the Governor, and various programs can be proceeded upon approval of the Assembly.
Execution of important agreements designated by applicable ordinances
For example, construction work or a manufacturing contract to be concluded by the metropolitan government at a scheduled price of above 900 million JPY requires the authorization of the Assembly.
Right to elect (the President, Vice President and members of Election Administration Commission) and right to consent

The Metropolitan Assembly is responsible for election of the President, Vice-President and members of the Election Administration Commission. Additionally, appointments to specific posts (the Vice- Governor, members of the Metropolitan Public Safety Commission and members of the Metropolitan Board of Education) by the Governor call for the approval of the Assembly.

Right to request inspection/audit

The Metropolitan Assembly is authorized to conduct inspections or audits of the implementation status of the administrative activities of the metropolitan government in the following ways:

  • Inspect documents and accounting statements relating to metropolitan administration and request the Governor and other executive organs to report them to the Assembly.
  • Requests audits (to the audit and inspection commissioners).
Right to investigate

For the purpose of conducting investigations on the administration of the metropolitan government, the Metropolitan Assembly is authorized to request the summoning of voters and other parties concerned, as well as the submission of testimonies and records. These rights are referred to as “Section 100 investigatory rights” as stipulated in the Section 100 of the Local Autonomy Law. This investigation is enforceable, and punishment of violations is provided to assure its implementation.

For example, the parties subject to the investigation cannot refuse to attend without a justifiable cause when he(or she) is requested by the Assembly to attend or testify for the purpose of investigation. When he(or she) refuses, he(or she) shall be punishable to imprisonment or fines accused by the Assembly.

Right to submit opinion briefs

The Metropolitan Assembly is authorized to submit opinion briefs about issues which significantly influence the life of citizens of Tokyo to the diet or relevant administrative ministries.

Non-confidence resolution against the Governor

The Governor and the Metropolitan Assembly are engaged in the administration of the metropolis maintaining a balance between their independent positions. In the event a conflict between the Governor and the Assembly becomes so serious that they cannot maintain the balance between them, the Assembly is authorized to submit a non-confidence resolution against the Governor as a last resort. In order to adopt a non- confident resolution, the concurrence of three-fourths of the attending Assembly members holding office at that time with the attendance of at least two-thirds of the membership is required. Upon adoption of a non- confidence resolution, the Governor is entitled to initiate dissolution of the Assembly within 10 days of the receipt of such resolution as a countermeasure. The Governor will automatically resign if the Assembly is not dissolved within the designated period of time.

Operation of the Assembly

Regular sessions and extraordinary sessions

Metropolitan Assembly sessions are held on a quarterly basis (in February, June, September and December each year). These are “regular sessions” of the Assembly, generally held for about 30 days per session (approximately 60 days in the sessions for municipal budgetary debates). In addition tothese regular sessions, “extraordinary sessions” may be held as deemed necessary.

The authority to summon the Assembly is granted to the Governor. However, the Governor has to summon extraordinary sessions within 20 days after the receipt of a request made by one fourth or more seats of the Assembly members or the President for summoning extraordinary sessions.

Plenary session

Session held with the attendance of the entire Assembly membership is referred to as “Plenary session.” Plenary session is generally dedicated to the deliberation of legislative bills submitted to the Assembly as well as to determine whether or not the Assembly supports the submission of opinions on affairs related to the public interest.

Sessions is initiated with an opening declaration by the President on the day the Assembly is summoned (inprincipal, attendance of at least one-half of the membership quota is required). The President conducts the session in accordance with a pre-determined agenda for the day.


The Metropolitan Assembly is required to effectively and extensively discuss numerous bills, supplications and petitions in the limited time of the session. Accordingly, committees are organized to examine agendas professionally and particularly prior to voting in the plenary session.

Standing committees
Standing Committee Various issues are discussed in the standing committees concerned.

In the Metropolitan Assembly, nine standing committees are currently organized under the provision of the ordinance. Each Assembly member shall belongs to one of the following committees:

  • General Affairs committee
  • Finance committee
  • Education committee
  • Urban Development committee
  • Welfare committee
  • Economic/Port and Harbor committee
  • Environmental/Construction committee
  • Public Enterprise committee
  • Police/Fire Fighting committee
Special committees
Room for special committee on the budget Special committees are ad hoc committees organized on the basis of resolutions by the plenary session in order to examine specific issues.

It is a common practice to establish special committees every year, including the Special Budget Committee to examine the budget, as well as the Special Committee for Earnings Results for General and Special Accounting and the Special Committee for Earnings Results for Public Enterprise Accounting to evaluate their respective earning results.

Assembly steering committee
This committee is organized to discuss the operation of the Metropolitan Assembly, and other issues. It is composed of members such as representatives from various factions in the Assembly.
Passage process of legislative bills

Legislative bills submitted to the Metropolitan Assembly are generally referred to committees. Taking into the results of examination by the committees, the legislative bills are subject to the plenary session.

The procedures for the processing of legislative bills are as indicated below:

  1. Submission of the bill to the plenary session
    The Governor, Assembly members and committees are authorized to submit legislative bills to the plenary session. Bills submitted by Assembly members require the approval of one-twelfth or more of the membership quota. The Assembly members who submitted legislative bills need to explain their content and the reason(s) for submission in the plenary session.
  2. Examination by the committee
    The submitted legislative bills are generally referred to the standing committees for examination.
    However, bills considered as urgent may be subjected to the voting of a plenary session, without examination by the standing committees.
    After completing the examination, by the standing committees, the result is reported from the committee Chair to the Assembly President.
  3. Voting by the plenary session
    The Assembly President calls the plenary session to oeder upon receiving the result of the examination from the committee Chairperson. Taking into account the result of the examination by the committees, the legislative bills are resolved at the plenary session. Once the bill is passed, it is put in to effect.

Process of enactment of bill

Process of Enactment of bill
Basic Rules for session operation

Various rules have been set in the Assembly to facilitate the effective and democratic operation of the sessions.

Principle of quorum
Quorum signifies the number of attending Assembly members required to call session or to reach a decision.. Usually, it is more than half of the number of members. Except for special cases, decisions made by the members which did not have quorum are considered to be invalid.
Principle of absolute majority
In principle, decisions shall be approved by an absolute majority of attending members. The President of the Assembly is not authorized to vote, but the deciding vote is cast by the President in the event the vote is evenly divided.
Principle of open discussion
As a rule, discussions in the Assembly are open to the public. This means that the Assembly allows citizens to sit in the Assembly in session, make the record of the session to the public, and report the session. As an exception, however, closed-door sessions can be held, provided the nondisclosure is approved by two-thirds or more of the attending Assembly members. In the case of the Metropolitan Assembly of Tokyo, both plenary sessions and committees are basically held open-door.
Principle of non-continuance of session
The Assembly works on the independent session. If it fails to reach a conclusion about a matter during the session, the matter will be removed from the agenda (abolished) at the end of the term. As an exception, if approved by a vote, a matter may be continuously discussed after the end of session.
Prohibition against the same matter being re-submitted twice in the same session
As a rule, a matter voted on by the Assembly is prohibited from being re-submitted for deliberation during the course of the same session.