1. History and Outline of the Association
The Nippon Urban Management and Local Government Research Association (NUMLGRA) was founded on 23rd June 1984 during a founding convention held in Osaka with its purpose as an interdisciplinary and international research organization.
The objectives of the Association are as follows: (1) promoting theoretical and political research works for more scientific, modernistic and democratic local autonomy systems, (2) contributing to local autonomy development.
To accomplish these objectives, the Association has taken some activities as follows: (1) holding a national convention annually and regional meetings at regular times in the year, (2) publishing bulletins and collected papers on the latest issues in local autonomy and administration, (3) offering new public policies, (4) doing joint research with related parties, (5) encouraging friendly relationships among members, and so on.
The Association consists of 288 individual members and 3 institutional members. The individual members include 152 scholars, 80 Certified Public Accountants, 41 officials from concerned administrative bodies, and others (as of September 2001).
2. Annual National Convention (1985-2000)
The annual national convention of the Association is usually held every autumn. At each convention, a common theme is set up by the host university. As the problems related to local autonomy are various and complicated, the Association needs to adopt interdisciplinary approaches to tackle them. Therefore, researchers in many different fields are invited to present works at the convention.
1st gCurrent Issues of Local Autonomyh, Kobe University of Commerce, January 1985.
2nd gLocal Autonomy and Regional Activationh, Nihon University, November 1985.
3rd gInformation Society and Local Autonomyh, Toyo University, July 1986.
4th gAdministrative Reform and Local Autonomyh, Hannan University, October 1987.
5th gLocal Autonomy in Age of Internationalizationh, Nihon University, November 1988.
6th gLocal Autonomy in the Information-oriented Ageh, Chubu University, September 1989.
7th gPerformance Evaluation and Local Autonomyh, Chuo University, October 1990.
8th gLocal Autonomy and Regional Developmenth, Kobe University of Commerce, September 1991.
9th gLocal Autonomy and Administration in Wider Areah, University of Osaka Prefecture, October 1992.
10th gDecentralization of Power and Regional Management;
Philosophy and Policiesh, University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences,
11th gJapan Sea Rim and Regional Developmenth, Akita University of Economics and Law, September 1994.
12th gUrban Community and Earthquake Disasterh, Konan University, September 1995.
13th gEvolution of Information-Oriented Society and Local Autonomyh, Meiji University, September 1996.
14th gDecentralizationh, Kansai University, September 1997.
15th The symposium section T, gEnvironmental Issues and Local Societyh, The symposium U, gLocal Autonomy and Accountabilityh, Senshu Ishinomaki University , September 1998. (The convention was held under the joint auspices of the Japan Society of Public Utility Economics, Hokkaido and Tohoku branches.)
16th gAdministrative Reform and Fiscal Reconstructionh, Kwansei Gakuin University, November 1999.
17th gFinancial Burdens and Asset Accumulation of Local Governmenth, Wako University, September 2000.
The Association issues a bulletin entitled the Journal of Urban Management and Local Government Research. It is issued twice a year, and until now, it has been issued twenty-nine times, the latest one being volume 16 number 2. The first bulletin of the year consists of presentations and extracts from the symposium under the common theme of the previous national convention, summaries of voluntary presentation sessions, and presentations at each regional branch. The second bulletin of the year consists of papers contributed by members.
The titles of the papers are remarkably various, and they reflect the nature of the Association as an interdisciplinary study group. The topics of the papers can be classified broadly into six categories as follows: (1) local autonomy systems, (2) regional management, (3) regional industrial developments, (4) financial affairs of local governments, (5) governmental accounting and auditing, and (6) information processing and new media in the public sector.
The Association also edited and published the collected papers relating to the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Associationfs foundation. The collection was entitled Regional Management and Administrative and Financial Affairs of Local Government (Zeimukeirikyokai, Tokyo, 1993) consisting of four sections and 15 chapters. The titles of each section are as follows:
Section T The Theories and Practices of Regional Management
Section U The Current Issues of Finance of Local Government
Section V The Organization and Problems of Local Administration
Section W The Current Issues of Accounting for Local Authorities.
A local autonomy study series was approved by the Association board of directors on September 1995. The publication plan contains two points of view. The first point is to present problems about the new fields of local autonomy, whereas the latter is to introduce the direction of studies about local autonomy in the world. Then, in March 1998, the Association also published a book titled Forefront Theory of Local Autonomy (Keso-Shobou, Tokyo, 1998) consisting of 13 chapters including preface.
4. Trends and Projections for the Association
The Association is composed of researchers and scholars from various specialized fields in social science, and has actively contributed to the development of local autonomy. It has adhered to interdisciplinary studies since its starting day and has also offered useful suggestions to the public on the basis of academic research. The Association has tried to live up to the expectations of the public demands, which call daily for new methods in local governments and communities.
Presently, the Association is confronted with new social requests in theoretical and practical fields in order to face the newly arisen social conflicts within our society.
The Association faces three active dimensions. First is the field where people live and are active. Second is the field where the inertia operates of a regional feeling, which residents have retained from the past. Third is the field where the government finds and operates an optimal policy after viewing the above two dimensions. At present, each dimension is threatened by a surge of social disturbances: (1) drastic development of the aging society with decreasing numbers of children, (2) development of technology arising from industry and human life styles, (3) increasing problems of destruction of the environment which threaten human life, (4) setting new international regulations (e.g. regulation for government deficit).
Confronted with these issues, the Association cannot continue to employ the existing measures reflecting the empiricism of the public and private sectors. New optimal resolutions and practical ones are needed on the bases of a theoretical background. The Association is obliged to play a role to search for new ways.
Currently, the central government has proposed new visions on the basis of intermediate and long-range viewpoints. These proposals will continually appear in the future. Then how can local governments prepare themselves for these policies under the high tide of decentralization? Each local government naturally has its own wants and interests. Moreover, they are asked to be accountable for their administration by their residents and people who have become skeptical about their high-cost government.
Considering such situations, the Association has reviewed its own administrative system, and has come up with the following action plans. First is to open the national convention to the public and encourage participation conferences concerning local autonomy through TV conferences to promote international debate on decentralization. Third is to communicate more actively with other academic societies by setting integrated targets for discussion. Fourth is to have the functional capital facility to meet information technology development and correspond to various requirements of our members.