Cities designated by government ordinance of Japan

Map of cities designated by government ordinance
Administrative divisions
of Japan

A city designated by government ordinance (政令指定都市 seirei shitei toshi), also known as a designated city (指定都市 shitei toshi) or government ordinance city (政令市 seirei shi), is a Japanese city that has a population greater than 500,000 and has been designated as such by order of the Cabinet of Japan under Article 252, Section 19 of the Local Autonomy Law.


Designated cities are delegated many of the functions normally performed by prefectural governments in fields such as public education, social welfare, sanitation, business licensing and urban planning. The city government is generally delegated the various minor administrative functions in each area, and the prefectural government retains authority over major decisions. For instance, pharmaceutical retailers and small clinics can be licensed by designated city governments, but pharmacies and hospitals are licensed by prefectural governments.

Designated cities are also required to subdivide themselves into wards ( ku), each of which has a ward office conducting various administrative functions for the city government, such as koseki and juminhyo resident registration and tax collection. In some cities, ward offices are responsible for business licensing, construction permits and other administrative matters. The structure and the authorities of the wards are determined by municipal ordinances.

The 23 special wards of Tokyo are not part of this system, as Tokyo is a prefecture, and its wards are effectively independent cities. Although the two largest wards of Tokyo, Setagaya and Nerima, are populous enough to become designated cities, they are not considered to be "cities" within the meaning of the Local Autonomy Law and so cannot be designated.

No cities designated by government ordinance have ever lost that status.

List of designated cities

Cities designated by government ordinance have been established since 1956.[1]

Name Japanese Population (2010) Date of designation Region Prefecture No. of wards Divisions
Chiba 千葉市 962,130 1992-04-01 Kantō Chiba 6 List
Fukuoka 福岡市 1,483,052 1972-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 7 List
Hamamatsu 浜松市 800,912 2007-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 7 List
Hiroshima 広島市 1,174,209 1980-04-01 Chūgoku Hiroshima 8 List
Kawasaki 川崎市 1,425,678 1972-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 7 List
Kitakyushu 北九州市 977,288 1963-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 7 List
Kobe 神戸市 1,544,873 1956-09-01 Kansai Hyōgo 9 List
Kumamoto 熊本市 731,286 2012-04-01 Kyushu Kumamoto 5 List
Kyoto 京都市 1,474,473 1956-09-01 Kansai Kyoto 11 List
Nagoya 名古屋市 2,263,907 1956-09-01 Chūbu Aichi 16 List
Niigata 新潟市 812,192 2007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata 8 List
Okayama 岡山市 709,622 2009-04-01 Chūgoku Okayama 4 List
Osaka 大阪市 2,666,371 1956-09-01 Kansai Osaka 24 List
Sagamihara 相模原市 717,561 2010-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 3 List
Saitama 埼玉市 1,222,910 2003-04-01 Kantō Saitama 10 List
Sakai 堺市 842,134 2006-04-01 Kansai Osaka 7 List
Sapporo 札幌市 1,914,434 1972-04-01 Hokkaido Hokkaido 10 List
Sendai 仙台市 1,045,903 1989-04-01 Tōhoku Miyagi 5 List
Shizuoka 静岡市 716,328 2005-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 3 List
Yokohama 横浜市 3,689,603 1956-09-01 Kantō Kanagawa 18 List

Designated city requirements

To become a candidate for designated city status, a city must have a population greater than 500,000.

An application for designation is made by a city with the approval of both the city and the prefectural assemblies.

Cities that meet the requirements but have not yet been nominated

The following cities have populations greater than 500,000 but have not yet been nominated. (Cities planning to apply for core city status are not shown. ※Core Cities; ※※Special Cities)


The first form of the designated city system was enacted under Japan local government system in 1878 with the introduction of "wards." Under that system, wards existed in every city. Most cities had only one ward, but the largest cities at the time (Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto) were divided into 15, 4, and 2 wards, respectively.

The municipal system enacted in 1889 replaced ward assemblies with city assemblies but retained ward assemblies in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, which had no assembly of their own but were governed by the prefectural assembly. In 1898, the three cities were allowed to form city assemblies. The ward system was adopted by three more cities prior to World War II: Nagoya (1908), Yokohama (1927), and Kobe (1931). Under a 1911 statute, wards were granted a corporate personality and so treated as local entities.

Following the war, the 1947 Local Autonomy Law grandfathered in the five subdivided cities (Tokyo having become a prefecture in 1943) as special cities (特別市 tokubetsu shi). The system was replaced by the designated city system when the Local Autonomy Law was amended, in 1956.

During the ensuing Japanese economic growth period, the government required designated cities to be forecast to reach a population of 1 million within the near future, but the requirement was dropped in 2005 to accommodate several geographically-large cities that were formed by mergers, under the Junichiro Koizumi government.

See also


  1. Jacobs, A.J. "Japan's Evolving Nested Municipal Hierarchy: The Race for Local Power in the 2000s," Urban Studies Research, Vol. 2011 (2011); doi:10.1155/2011/692764; retrieved 2012-3-23.

External links

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