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2010 Vol.3
The Possibility of Local, Self-Governing Activity and Its Main Actor


Community-oriented government programs date back to the 1970s, are based on public participation, and attempt to gradually promote civic values and restore social solidarity. Reexamining such programs, this paper considers the process of the emergence in self-governing activities of the main actor who is the key to people’s self-governance.
The investigation focused on Mitaka City, Tokyo. The city started to engage in community-oriented government programs in the early days of the initiative and tried to improve them, but the attempt hit the wall in the 1980s. There were clear reasons for the failure: although people actively took actions toward self-governing activities, policy concern shifted to the maintenance and improvement of community facilities and voluntary management of such facilities by the people, the city insisted on public consensus and participation by all households; and the local government’s expectations changed when policy was being implemented.
The 1990s saw the start of the Mitaka Citizens’ Council for Plan 21 which provided a new way of public participation that differed from the previous community-oriented government programs. This large-scale citizen’s council for discussions on long-term plans grew to a level that exceeded the expectation of Mitaka City. As reasons for this result, this article points out that the characterization of the citizens’ council was clear due to a partnership agreement, that participants consequently found a positive meaning in contributing time and effort to the preparation of proposals, and that tight relationships developed among the participants through the council.
The case of Mitaka City shows that the original goal of community-oriented government programs was achieved in a context different from what was initially planned. The difference depends on whether decision making by local residents-the main actor-is recognized and can, with proper authority, influence official decisions. These could never have been realized under community-oriented government programs.