Governor (Japan)

In Japan, the governor (知事, chiji) is the highest ranking executive of a prefecture.[1]

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The governor is directly elected for a four-year term. Governors are subject to recall referenda. In each prefecture, between one and four vice governors are appointed by the governor with the approval of the prefectural assembly. In the case of death, disability, or resignation of the governor, one of the vice governors becomes either governor or acting governor.

“On 7 January 1989, upon the demise of Emperor Hirohito (posthumously Emperor Showa), His Majesty Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne as the 125th Emperor of Japan. The Ceremony of Enthronement was held at the Imperial Palace on 12 November 1990. From abroad, representatives of 158 countries, including Monarchs and Heads of State, and of two international organizations attended the ceremony. As stated in the Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people" and derives his position from "the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power” (The Imperial Household Agency, 2016).

Akihito, the emperor of Tokyo, is responsible for several times the population as other emperors of separate prefectures are. Tokyo, world-known for its production abilities, puts 86-year-old emperor Akihito in a precarious position. Emperor Akihito answers only to the prime minister of Japan, and is often referred to as the second-in-command of all of Japan. While the other emperors of the prefectures do not hold a lower/higher rank than Akihito, given the responsibilities that Akihito faces, he is often seen as a figurehead. “In 2006, more than 15 percent of the nation’s private-sector employees were working in Tokyo. That year, more than 18 percent of all domestic private companies had their head offices in Tokyo and 72.2 percent of foreign companies had offices in the capital” (Japan Times, 2019).

With this information in mind, it is easy to see just how much responsibility is placed on the emperor of Tokyo. A small glimpse into the responsibilities of Tokyo’s governor: “By law, the governor is in charge of submitting bills to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, compiling and executing budgets and imposing and collecting local taxes, among other duties. Every year, the Tokyo governor receives 200 requests for meetings from state governors and mayors from around the world, although less than half of them are accepted, according to Jin. State guests and other foreign VIPs also pay courtesy calls on the governor, who to them has a higher profile than Japan’s short-lived Cabinet ministers, Jin said. On visits to the U.S. and other countries, the governor is treated on a par with a Diet speaker or foreign minister, Jin said” (Japan Times, 2019).

See also

  • List of governors of Japan


    2. Japan Times. (February 12, 2019). The Second-Most Powerful Job. Retrieved June 20TH, 2019, from
    3. The Imperial Household Agency. (March, 2016). Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. Retrieved June 22ND, 2019, from
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