The history of the National Association of Towns & Villages begins with the first gathering of the town and village mayors throughout Japan in May 1920. At this conference, a proposal to create prefectural associations of towns and villages in each locality and a national association of towns and villages centrally so that these organizations could contribute to the promotion and development of town and village autonomy was passed unanimously. About 600 town and village representatives from around the country gathered in Tokyo on February 12, 1921 for the inaugural meeting, and the National Association of Town & Village Mayors was born.
In August 1947, the name of the organization was changed to the present National Association of Towns & Villages so that it better suited its role as a comprehensive collaboration organization for town and village governments.
In 1963, the Local Government Act was revised so that the National Association of Towns & Villages became an entity that must report to the Minister of Home Affairs as a nationwide alliance of town and village mayors. The Act was again revised in 1993, giving the organization the right to submit opinions to the Cabinet and the Diet.
The Association's main activities are conducting various types of investigations and research on policies for the promotion and development of local governments, mostly of towns and villages, submit requests to the central government and Diet, participate in various types of government councils concerned with local administration, and other activities related to government business.
To spread news of these activities to nationwide mayors of towns and villages and related organizations as well as the general public, the Association also strives to carry out its own publicity activities through its weekly bulletin, the "Town and Village Weekly Bulletin," and its official website.
The Association is currently actively involved in various initiatives to further enhance its activities for the 21st century and generate greater understanding of the role of towns and villages.
(REF: Local Government Act)
Article 263-3 In the event that prefectural governors or chairpersons of local assemblies, city mayors or chairpersons of city assemblies and town/village mayors or chairpersons of town/village assemblies establish a nationwide alliance for the purpose of close mutual contact, deliberation on common problems and implementation of measures to counter those problems, the representatives of the alliance must report those activities to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications.
(2) Such representatives reporting to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications mentioned in the preceding paragraph in accordance with the provision of the paragraph can submit an opinion to the Cabinet via the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications or submit a written opinion to the Diet for laws or regulations, government ordinances or other affairs that affect local governing bodies.
(3) Upon receiving the opinion stipulated in the preceding paragraph, the Cabinet shall take efforts to respond without delay.
(4) In the case of the proceeding paragraph, if the respective opinion is concerned with a national measure or policy that stipulates the obligation of new clerical work or a new burden for a local public organization, the Cabinet shall respond without delay.
The government affair–related activities of the Association are intended to resolve basic issues in financial and administrative operations shared by all towns and villages in Japan and the resolution of the various issues presently being faced by towns and villages for achieving promotion of town and village administration.
Determining and making requests
Opinions and requests submitted by towns and villages and prefectural town and village associations and issues concerning the proposal, deliberation, establishment, revision or dismissal of systems or policies raised by a Ministry, agency or political party will be investigated and deliberated on by the policy research council (with a general council as well as an administrative council, and a finance, agriculture and forestry council), permanent executive board, executive board (association of chairpersons of prefectural town and village assemblies) and others. A decision will be made whether or not to make a request in the name of the National Association of Towns & Villages, and actions will be taken to have that request met to the respective Ministries, political parties and members of the Diet.
Determining and making requests will (1) be pursued year-round for each respective issue as needed, and (2) summarized in the "Requests concerning Government Budget Formulation and Policies" in June and July and/or "National Congress of Town and Village Mayors: Declarations, Resolutions, and Requests" in late November or early December as a comprehensive written request for all the main items which will be submitted to the central government and relevant Ministries and agencies to be met.
As the revision in part of the Local Government Act (Article 263-3 (2)) came into effect on June 11, 1993 (126th national assembly), it became possible for national alliances of heads and chairpersons of local public bodies, such as the National Association of Towns & Villages, to submit opinions to the Diet or Cabinet (right to offer opinions). Accordingly, the National Association of Chairmen of Town and Village Assemblies joined with the National Governers' Association, the National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies, the Japan Association of City Mayors, the National Association of Chairpersons of City Councils, and the National Association of Chairmen of Town and Village Assemblies to submit the "Written Opinion on the Promotion of Decentralization" (Japanese only) to speakers of the Upper House and Lower House and submit the opinion to the Cabinet in June, 1994.
To ensure the healthy development of local government finances, six major organizations on local government including this one and the National Governers' Association established the Council for Policies on the Establishment of Local Autonomy to make requests to the central government, the Diet, and other entities regarding achieving decentralization as well as issues such as the national budget, measures and policies and tax revisions.