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Subprefectures of Japan: Wikis


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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)

Certain prefectures of Japan are now, or once were, divided into subprefectures. The subprefecture is the jurisdiction surrounding a branch office (支庁 shichō ?) of the prefectural government. Normally, the area of a subprefecture consists of a few to a dozen cities, towns, and/or villages. Subprefectures are formed to provide services of the prefectural government in geographically remote areas. They are usually not used in postal addresses.

Existing subprefectures

  • Hokkaidō, the largest prefecture by area in Japan, is divided into fourteen subprefectures. These were formed in 1897. The subprefectures did not include major cities, such as Sapporo and Hakodate, until 1922. See: Subprefectures in Hokkaidō
  • Kagoshima has two subprefectures, Ōshima and Kumage, located in Amami and Nishinoomote respectively. They cover the islands between Kagoshima and Okinawa.
  • Miyazaki contains a single subprefecture, Nishiusuki, a remote mountain district in the northwest corner of the prefecture.
  • Nagasaki contains three subprefectures that provide services to the outlying islands of Tsushima, Iki and Gotō.
  • Tokyo contains four subprefectures that provide administrative services to residents of certain outlying islands under the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The four branch offices are located at Hachijō, Miyake, Ogasawara and Ōshima.
  • Okinawa has two subprefectures, Miyako and Yaeyama, located on the islands of Miyakojima and Ishigaki respectively. These offices provide prefectural government services to the isolated archipelagos surrounding both islands.
  • Shimane contains one subprefecture governing the Oki Islands. This is the closest Japanese government office to Liancourt Rocks, a small island group held by South Korea but claimed by Japan.
  • Yamagata is divided into four subprefectures, each of which is located in one of the four main urban areas of the prefecture (Yamagata, Shinjo, Yonezawa and Shonai).

Historical subprefectures

  • Hyōgo, another geographically large prefecture, was divided into ten subprefectures, but these are now known as citizen's bureaus (県民局 kenmin-kyoku ?).
  • Chiba was divided into five subprefectures until 2003, when the branch offices were renamed citizens' centers (県民センター kenmin-sentā ?).

In addition, in 1907 Japan formed Karafuto Prefecture to govern the island of Sakhalin. Karafuto was divided into four subprefectures: Toyohara (in present-day Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Maoka (in present-day Kholmsk), Esutoru (in present-day Uglegorsk) and Shikuka (in present-day Makarov).

A number of islands gained by Japan in the Treaty of Versailles were placed under the direction of a South Pacific Prefecture (南洋庁 Nan'yōchō ?) from 1922 to 1945. This was divided into six subprefectures, on the islands of Saipan, Yap, Palau, Truk, Pohnpei and Jaluit. In November 1943, the six subprefectures were merged into "eastern," "western" and "northern" subprefectures, which remained in place until Japan's surrender.

See also



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