| Administrative divisions|
Japan has three levels of government: national, prefectural, and municipal. The nation is divided into 47 prefectures. Each prefecture consists of numerous municipalities, with 1,719 in total (January 2013 figures) . There are four types of municipalities in Japan: cities, towns, villages and special wards (the ku of Tokyo). In Japanese, this system is known as shikuchōson (市区町村), where each kanji in the word represents one of the four types of municipalities. Some designated cities also have further administrative subdivisions, also known as wards. But, unlike the Special wards of Tokyo, these wards are not municipalities.
The status of a municipality, if it is a village, town or city, is decided by the prefectural government. 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, Hokkaidō, has a population of merely four thousand, while a town in the same prefecture, Otofuke, Hokkaidō, has nearly forty thousand residents, and the country's largest village Yomitan, Okinawa has a population of 40,517.
The capital city, Tokyo, no longer has city status. Tokyo Prefecture now encompasses 23 special wards, each a city unto itself, as well as many other cities, towns and even villages on the Japanese mainland and outlying islands. Each of the 23 special wards of Tokyo is legally equivalent to a city, though sometimes the 23 special wards as a whole are regarded as one city. For information on the former city of Tokyo, see Tokyo City; for information about present-day Tokyo Prefecture, see Tokyo.
See List of cities in Japan for a complete list of cities. See also: Core cities of Japan
The following are examples of the 20 designated cities:
The same kanji which designates a town (町) is also sometimes used for addresses of sections of an urban area. In rare cases, a municipal village might even contain a section with the same type of designation. Although the kanji is the same, neither of these individual sections are municipalities unto themselves. Sometimes, the section name is a remnant from gappei, a system where several adjacent communities merge to form a larger municipality, where the old town names are kept for a section of the new city, even though the resulting new city may have a completely different name.
Honshu is the largest and most populous main island of Japan. It is located south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Straits. The island separates the Sea of Japan, which lies to its north and west, from the North Pacific Ocean to the south and east. It is the 7th largest island in the world, and the 2nd most populous after the Indonesian island of Java.
Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, forming the first level of jurisdiction and administrative division. They consist of 43 prefectures proper, two urban prefectures, one "circuit" or "territory" and one "metropolis". In 1868, the Meiji Fuhanken sanchisei administration created the first prefectures to replace the urban and rural administrators in the parts of the country previously controlled directly by the shogunate and a few territories of rebels/shogunate loyalists who had not submitted to the new government such as Aizu/Wakamatsu. In 1871, all remaining feudal domains (han) were also transformed into prefectures, so that prefectures subdivided the whole country. In several waves of territorial consolidation, today's 47 prefectures were formed by the turn of the century. In many instances, these are contiguous with the ancient ritsuryō provinces of Japan.
Osaka Prefecture is a prefecture located in the Kansai region on Honshu, the main island of Japan. The capital is the city of Osaka. It is the center of Keihanshin area. Osaka is one of the two "urban prefectures" of Japan, Kyoto being the other.
A city is a local administrative unit in Japan. Cities are ranked on the same level as towns and villages, with the difference that they are not a component of districts. Like other contemporary administrative units, they are defined by the Local Autonomy Law of 1947.
Special wards are a special form of municipalities in Japan under the 1947 Local Autonomy Law. They are city-level wards: primary subdivisions of a prefecture with municipal autonomy largely comparable to other forms of municipalities.
The Japanese addressing system is used to identify a specific location in Japan. When written in Japanese characters, addresses start with the largest geographical entity and proceed to the most specific one. When written in Latin characters, addresses follow the convention used by most Western addresses and start with the smallest geographic entity and proceed to the largest. The Japanese system is complex and idiosyncratic, the product of the natural growth of urban areas, as opposed to the systems used in cities that are laid out as grids and divided into quadrants or districts.
Tokyo City was a municipality in Japan and part of Tokyo-fu which existed from 1 May 1889 until its merger with its prefecture on 1 July 1943. The historical boundaries of Tokyo City are now occupied by the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo. The new merged government became what is now Tokyo, also known as the Tokyo Metropolis, or, ambiguously, Tokyo Prefecture.
Keihanshin is a metropolitan region in the Kansai region of Japan encompassing the metropolitan areas of the cities of Kyoto in Kyoto Prefecture, Osaka in Osaka Prefecture and Kobe in Hyōgo Prefecture. The entire region has a population of 19,341,976 over an area of 13,033 km2 (5,032 sq mi). It is the second-most-populated urban region in Japan, containing approximately 15% of Japan's population.
The Japanese archipelago is a group of 6,852 islands that form the country of Japan. It extends over 3,000 km (1,900 mi) from the Sea of Okhotsk southwest to the Philippine Sea south along the northeastern coast of the Eurasia continent. It consists of islands from the Sakhalin Island Arc, the Northeastern Japan Arc to the Ryukyu Islands and the Nanpō Islands. Japan is the largest island country in East Asia and the 4th largest island country in the world with 377,975.24 km2 (145,937.06 sq mi). It has the 8th largest exclusive economic zone of 4,470,000 km2 (1,730,000 sq mi).
Moji-ku (門司区) is a Japanese ward of the city of Kitakyūshū in Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the former city of Moji which was one of five merged to create Kitakyūshū in 1963. It faces the city of Shimonoseki across the Kanmon Straits between Honshū and Kyūshū.
Shakotan is a town located in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. As of September 2016, the town had a population of 2,215, and a density of 9.3 persons per km². The total area of the town is 238.20 square kilometres (91.97 sq mi), and located 90 kilometres (56 mi) west of Sapporo, the capital and economic hub of Hokkaido. Shakotan occupies the north of the Shakotan Peninsula. It was founded in 1869 as part of the short-lived Shiribeshi Province, which was dissolved in 1882 to become Hokkaido. Shakotan, along with neighboring Otaru, is home to Japan's only national-level marine sanctuary. Shakotan is home to the three great capes of the Shakotan Peninsula: Kamui, Shakotan, and Ōgon.
Municipal mergers and dissolutions carried out in Japan can take place within one municipality or between multiple municipalities and are required to be based upon consensus.
Japanese place names include names for geographic features, present and former administrative divisions, transportation facilities such as railroad stations, and historic sites in Japan. The article Japanese addressing system contains related information on postal addresses.
The bureaucratic administration of Japan is divided into three basic levels; national, prefectural, and municipal. Below the national government there are 47 prefectures, six of which are further subdivided into subprefectures to better service large geographical areas or remote islands. The municipalities are the lowest level of government; the twenty most-populated cities outside Tokyo Metropolis are known as designated cities and are subdivided into wards.
Kitakyushu is a city located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Japan:
The 17th unified local elections in Japan took place in April 2011. In the first phase on April 10, 2011 12 governors, 41 prefectural assemblies as well as five mayors and 15 assemblies in cities designated by government ordinance were elected. In the second phase on April 24, 2011 mayors and/or assemblies in hundreds of cities, cities of Tokyo, towns and villages were up for election. Additionally, a by-election for the National Diet was held in Aichi on April 24.