Cities designated by government ordinance of Japan

Japan ordinance designated cities (en).svg

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) (broadly equivalent to the Boroughs of London or the Boroughs of New York City), 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 are not designated such.

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

List of designated citiesEdit

Designated cites in Japan (except for Kanto region and Kansai area)
7: Okayama, 8: Hiroshima, 9: Kitakyushu
Designated cites in Kanto region area
Designated cites in Kansai area and Western Tōkai area

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

Name Japanese Flag Emblem Area (km2) Population Population density Date of designation Region Prefecture No. of wards Lists of wards Map
Chiba 千葉市     271.77 972,861 3,613 1992-04-01 Kantō Chiba 06 List  
Fukuoka 福岡市     343.39 1,579,450 4,668 1972-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 07 List  
Hamamatsu 浜松市     1,558.06 795,350 506 2007-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 07 List  
Hiroshima 広島市     906.68 1,194,524 1,321 1980-04-01 Chūgoku Hiroshima 08 List  
Kawasaki 川崎市     143.01 1,503,690 10,765 1972-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 07 List  
Kitakyushu 北九州市     491.95 945,595 1,901 1963-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 07 List  
Kobe 神戸市     557.02 1,526,639 2,719 1956-09-01 Kansai Hyōgo 09 List  
Kumamoto 熊本市     390.32 737,812 1,892 2012-04-01 Kyushu Kumamoto 05 List  
Kyoto 京都市     827.83 1,468,980 1,758 1956-09-01 Kansai Kyoto 11 List  
Nagoya 名古屋市     326.45 2,283,289 7,128 1956-09-01 Chūbu Aichi 16 List  
Niigata 新潟市     726.45 807,450 1,089 2007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata 08 List  
Okayama 岡山市     789.95 720,841 912 2009-04-01 Chūgoku Okayama 04 List  
Osaka 大阪市     225.21 2,727,255 12,226 1956-09-01 Kansai Osaka 24 List  
Sagamihara 相模原市     328.91 720,986 2,198 2010-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 03 List  
Saitama さいたま市     217.43 1,226,656 6,072 2003-04-01 Kantō Saitama 10 List  
Sakai 堺市     149.82 833,544 5,500 2006-04-01 Kansai Osaka 07 List  
Sapporo 札幌市     1,121.26 1,955,115 1,750 1972-04-01 Hokkaido Hokkaido 10 List  
Sendai 仙台市     786.30 1,088,669 1,389 1989-04-01 Tōhoku Miyagi 05 List  
Shizuoka 静岡市     1,411.90 697,578 486 2005-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 03 List  
Yokohama 横浜市     437.56 3,732,616 8,588 1956-09-01 Kantō Kanagawa 18 List  

Designated city requirementsEdit

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.

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, ※※Core cities at risk of dissolving)

Name Japanese Flag Emblem Area (km2) Population (2012) Region Prefecture Map
Funabashi 船橋市     85.62 610,492 Kantō Chiba  
Hachiōji 八王子市     186.38 579,799 Kantō Tokyo  
Higashiōsaka 東大阪市     61.78 508,267 Kansai Osaka  
Himeji 姫路市     534.43 536,218 Kansai Hyōgo  
Kagoshima 鹿児島市     547.58 607,257 Kyushu Kagoshima  
Kawaguchi 川口市     61.95 561,788 Kantō Saitama  
Matsuyama 松山市     429.40 516,823 Shikoku Ehime  
Utsunomiya 宇都宮市     416.85 513,722 Kantō Tochigi  


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, four, and two 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 one 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 government of Junichiro Koizumi.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jacobs, A.J. ""Japan's Evolving Nested Municipal Hierarchy: The Race for Local Power in the 2000s,"]". Hindawi, Urban Studies Research, Vol. 2011 (2011), doi:10.1155/2011/692764. Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2012.

External linksEdit