Entities such as local municipal and prefectural governments have a legislative organ that decides on matters such as budgets and ordinances and deliberates and decides on municipal policies and an executive organ that actually administers municipal policies based on the resolutions of the legislative assembly.
In Yokohama, the City Council serves as the legislative organ, while the executive organ is represented by persons and entities including the mayor, the board of education, the election administration commission and audit & inspection commissioners.
Based on the principle of independence and equality, the City Council and mayor have a relationship like "the wheels of a car," assuming responsibility for municipal policies, ensuring fair public administration by mutual checks and balances, respecting the wishes of citizens and aiming for the even better administration of municipal policies.
Composition of the City Council
The City Council is composed of members directly elected by citizens with voting rights. The local law states that the City Council must have 86 members.
While City Council members are elected from each of the 18 wards, the number of members elected by each ward determined proportionate to the population.
The term served by City Council members is fixed at four years.
President and Vice president
The President and the Vice President are elected from among and by the council members.
As well as representing the City Council, the President strives to maintain good order in the assembly ensure the smooth administration of its proceedings.
In addition, the work of the President also includes coordination of the various affairs of the City Council.
The Vice President performs these functions in place of the President if the latter is unable to attend to his or her duties due to work-related travel, illness or other such circumstances.
Political parties and groups
City Council members having similar views or advocating similar policies often join together to form political parties or groups. Matters such as the time to make speeches at a plenary session are decided based on the number of members of the political party or group.
Regular and extraordinary sessions
The City Council is convened for regular sessions four times per year. Extraordinary sessions are convened as the need arises.
Operation of the City Council
Plenary sessions, consisting of all the council members, make final decisions. Here, the Yokohama City Council expresses opinions and makes final decisions on bills presented to it.
Since deliberating on all bills in plenary sessions in inefficient, based on the departments of the executive organ of the city for which they are responsible, standing committees have been established to undertake examinations of items such as bills petitions and appeals.
Council Steering Committee
The City Council Steering Committee functions to coordinate opinions among the political parties by providing a venue for discussion between representatives of party groups (comprising five or more party-affiliated council members) on various matters concerning the City Council administration to ensure its smooth operation.
It also examines and reviews bills, petitions and appeals concerning the City Council.
Special committees are established as necessary in order to consider, investigate and research agenda matters (specific issues of municipal policies determined by the resolutions of the City Council). Special committee members exchange opinions, visit and inspect projects, and hear opinions from expert witnesses.
In addition to this, every year, customarily the First and Second Budget Special Committee and the First and Second Settlement of Accounts Committee are established in order to examine the initial budget and settlement of accounts.
Anyone has the right to express opinions and demands on city policies by presenting one of two types of petition; so-called Seigan or Chinjo (while both are petitions, their formats differ), to the President.
While seigan-type petitions must be introduced by a council member, chinjo-type petitions do not.
Final decisions on whether to adopt or reject seigan-type petitions are made by the plenary session after review and examination by the appropriate committee. The petitioner is then informed of the results.
Chinjo-type petitions requesting submission of written opinions to a relevant government administrative agency or agencies, or related to decisions on city council intentions, are referred to a Standing Committee or other appropriate committee. Once the conclusions of the committee's investigation have been reported to the plenary session, the petitioner is informed.
The President requests that the Mayor respond directly to chinjo-type petitions regarding requests on city administration. The petitioner is then informed of the conclusion.
*Please note that, depending on the content of chinjo-type petitions, there may be cases where it is decided that the relevant petitions do not warrant review by a committee or a response from the mayor."
Guide to observation of City Council meetings
Plenary sessions of the City Council and committee meetings are open to the public. Anyone wishing to attend should ask for a ticket on the day at the City Council Assembly Hall in City Hall.
You can watch the proceedings of City Council plenary sessions; board meetings of the Special Committee on initial budgets and annual settlement of accounts; conferences of all members; and board meetings of Standing, Steering and Special Committees live on monitor at the City Council Hall. No special applications are required. Please show up at the City Council Hall on the day.
A summary of plenary session debates; "The Minutes of the City Council"; records of Standing, Council Steering and Special Committees; records from Conferences of all members; and other materials may be viewed at the City Council Library, the city's Public Information Center, the Central Public Library, city libraries, and on the Council's website.
*The timing of availability of records for viewing differs depending on the assembly. For details, please contact the City Council Bureau.
Broadcasts on the Internet
Proceedings of City Council plenary sessions; board meetings of the Special Committee on initial budgets/annual settlement of accounts; conferences of all members; City Council welcoming ceremonies; Standing, Steering and Special Committee meetings; and board meetings of Special Committees are broadcasted on the Internet (both live and recorded).
Where to inquire
|About the composition of the City Council, operation of the City Council, petitions and appeals, and records
||Proceedings Division, City Council Bureau (*Inquiries in Japanese only)
|About observing sessions and broadcasting on the Internet
||Secretary and Public Relations Division, City Council Bureau (*Inquiries in Japanese only)