Japan has implemented a wide range of administrative systems for metropolitan cities, such as ‘cities designated by government ordinance’(seireisiteitosi), ‘core cities’(chukaku-si), and ‘special cities’(tokurei-si). The drastic amalgamation of cities, towns and villages that has taken place in recent years can be best understood from this perspective.
Such systems are the result of a new drive to adjust the autonomous bodies of Japan to a new environment by fixing the problems with the old-fashioned system caused by the advancement of telecommunication technologies, urbanization and industrialization.
Similarly to Japan, Korea has also been recently pushing for adjustment of the designations of self-governing bodies, through discussions on a special administrative system for metropolitan cities. An out-of-date autonomous administrative area has not been properly adjusted to the present epochal changes in situations, and this has resulted in administrative problems.
Japanese special administrative systems for metropolitan cities can be categorized into three types. Such special administrative systems for metropolitan cities have been discussed at the level of conurbation, and some functions of the system have proven to be meaningful, while others have remained nominal.
Apart from effectiveness as a system, it is important that democracy and benefits to the residents as well as efficiency be taken into account when reorganizing autonomous administrative districts. If the system fails to attain the above two purposes, it does not meet the original purpose.
In addition, the decisive power and responsibilities of an autonomous body should be expanded and solidified through institutional reform. If the special administrative system for a metropolitan city in Korea has currently, over the transom, expanded the decisive power of a chief executive of an autonomous body without any expansion of its responsibilities, lax management of the system can be expected. Considering that the variety of special administrative systems of Japan is highly suggestive Korea’s introduction of special administrative systems for metropolitan cities, this is an issue that should be further and fully deliberated in the future.