Local government throughout Japan was strengthened by the Local Autonomy Law of 1947. Administratively, Japan is divided into 47 prefectures. Within these prefectures there are 670 cities and 2,562 towns and villages. The local chief executives, mayors, and village heads, together with prefectural assembly members, are directly elected. The city of Tokyo comprises 23 wards.
Local public bodies have the right to administer their own affairs as well as to enact their own regulations within the law. The National Diet cannot enact legislation for a specific public entity without the consent of the voters of that district. Local governments control school affairs, levy taxes, and carry out administrative functions in the fields of land preservation and development, pollution control, disaster prevention, public health, and social welfare. The Japanese government is seeking to decentralize power away from Tokyo by allowing prefectures to exercise greater fiscal and budgetary autonomy.