The National Capital Region includes Tokyo and its twenty-three wards (or boroughs) and seven surrounding prefectures, for the most part governed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, whose main offices are located in Shinjuku ward. In addition to the administration of Tokyo itself the Metropolitan Government is also responsible for twenty-six suburban cities to the west in Tama Area, and a number of small islands which stretch some one thousand kilometres into the Pacific Ocean. The prefecture of Tokyo is legislated by the Metropolitan Assembly which consists of 127 elected members. Elections take place every four years; the next will be in 2009. All major national political parties are represented in the Tokyo Assembly with the exception of the Social Democratic Party which lost its seats during the last election. The Liberal Democratic Party has the majority in the current Assembly.
The author and politician Shintaro Ishihara has been the governor of Tokyo since 1999. He is a controversial figure, famous for criticising the United States, China and the central government, and for once having said that Japan "is the only non-Caucasian society to have created a modern superpower." Just two months before graduating from university Ishihara won Japan's most prestigious literary prize for his novel Season of the Sun. The book was made into a film and both Ishihara and his brother Yujiro, who played a supporting role, found themselves at the centre of a youth-oriented cult. His distinguished political career began with his election to the House of Councillors in 1968, and his literary works have continued to be published since that time. Two of his four sons are also in politics and hold seats in the House of Representatives.
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