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Cities of Japan: Wikis


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Cities of Japan
Administrative divisions of Japan
Prefectural level
(都道府県 todōfuken)
Subprefectural level
(支庁 shichō)

(郡 gun)

Municipal level
Designated cities
(政令指定都市 seirei-shitei-toshi)

Core cities
(中核市 chūkaku-shi)

Special cities
(特例市 tokurei-shi)

(市 shi)

Special wards (Tokyo)
(特別区 tokubetsu-ku)

(町 chō, machi)

(村 son, mura)

Sub-municipal level
(区 ku)

A city ( shi ?) is a local administrative unit in Japan. Cities are ranked on the same level as towns ( machi ?) and villages ( mura ?), with the difference that they are not a component of districts ( gun ?). Like other contemporary administrative units, they are defined by the Local Autonomy Law of 1947.

City status

Generally, a village or town can be promoted to a city when its population increases above fifty thousand, and a city can (but need not) be demoted to a town or village when its population decreases below fifty thousand. The least-populated city, Utashinai, Hokkaido, has a population of merely six thousand, while a town in the same prefecture, Otofuke, Hokkaido, has nearly forty thousand. Larger cities of at least 200,000 inhabitants can achieve one of three special statuses: special city, core city, or “designated” city.

Under the Act on Special Provisions concerning Merger of Municipalities (市町村の合併の特例等に関する法律 ?, Act No. 59 of 2004), the standard of 50,000 inhabitants for the city status has been eased to 30,000 if such population is gained as a result of a merger of towns and/or villages, in order to facilitate such mergers to reduce administrative costs. Many municipalities gained city status under this eased standard. On the other hand, the municipalities recently gained the city status purely as a result of increase of population without expansion of area are limited to those listed in List of former towns or villages gained city status alone.

Status of Tokyo

Most people outside Japan think of Tokyo, Japan’s capital, as a city, but under Japanese law it is a special subregional administrative unit called a to ( ?) that has prefectural authority (and is therefore counted as one of the country’s 47 prefectures). Its official name in English is Tokyo Metropolis (and that of its government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government), and it has incorporated cities within its jurisdiction.


See List of cities in Japan and List of Japanese cities by population for complete lists.



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