Special cities of Japan

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A special city (特例市, Tokureishi) of Japan is a city with a population of at least 200,000, and is delegated functions[ specify ] normally carried out by prefectural governments. Those functions are a subset of the ones delegated to a core city.


This category was established by the Local Autonomy Law, article 252 clause 26. They are designated by the Cabinet after a request by the city council and the prefectural assembly.

Because the level of autonomy delegated to special cities is similar to that for core cities, after consultation with local governments the category of special cities was abolished in the revision of the Local Autonomy Act enacted on April 1, 2015, and cities with a population of at least 200,000 may now apply to be directly promoted to core city status. Special cities which have not been promoted may still retain autonomy, and are called special cities for the enforcement period (施行時特例市, Shikōji Tokurei shi). As a special case, within five years of the abolishment of the category of special cities, i.e. before April 1, 2020, special cities with a population under 200,000 may also apply to be promoted to core city status. [1]

The special cities are not the same as the special wards of Tokyo. They are also different from special cities (特別市, tokubetsu-shi) that were legally established in the Local Autonomy Law between 1947 and 1956, but never implemented. They would have been prefecture-independent cities (in an analogous way, special wards are city-independent wards). They were the legal successors to the 1922 "six major cities" (roku daitoshi; only five were left in 1947 as Tokyo City had been abolished in the war) and precursors to the 1956 designated major cities which have expanded autonomy, but not full independence from prefectures. [2]

List of special cities

As of 1 April 2021, 23 cities have been designated special cities:

NameJapaneseFlagPopulation (2012)Date of designationRegionPrefecture
Atsugi 厚木市 Flag of Atsugi, Kanagawa.svg 224,1812002-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa
Chigasaki 茅ヶ崎市 Flag of Chigasaki, Kanagawa.svg 239,8742003-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa
Fuji 富士市 Flag of Fuji, Shizuoka.png 245,0152001-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka
Hiratsuka 平塚市 Flag of Hiratsuka, Kanagawa.svg 260,0612001-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa
Ibaraki 茨木市 Flag of Ibaraki, Osaka.svg 276,4742001-04-01 Kansai Osaka
Isesaki 伊勢崎市 Flag of Isesaki, Gunma.svg 207,2532007-04-01 Kantō Gunma
Jōetsu 上越市 Flag of Joetsu, Niigata.svg 202,3662007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata
Kakogawa 加古川市 Flag of Kakogawa, Hyogo.svg 268,1752002-04-01 Kansai Hyōgo
Kasugai 春日井市 Flag of Kasugai, Aichi.svg 306,5732002-04-01 Chūbu Aichi
Kasukabe 春日部市 Flag of Kasukabe, Saitama.svg 236,9762008-04-01 Kantō Saitama
Kishiwada 岸和田市 Flag of Kishiwada, Osaka.svg 197,6292002-04-01 Kansai Osaka
Kumagaya 熊谷市 Flag of Kumagaya, Saitama.svg 201,8142009-04-01 Kantō Saitama
Nagaoka 長岡市 Flag of Nagaoka, Niigata.svg 281,1012007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata
Numazu 沼津市 Flag of Numazu, Shizuoka.svg 199,8832000-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka
Odawara 小田原市 Flag of Odawara, Kanagawa.svg 194,6722000-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa
Ōta 太田市 Flag of Ota, Gunma.svg 217,1072007-04-01 Kantō Gunma
Saga 佐賀市 Flag of Saga, Saga.svg 237,5012014-04-01 Kyushu Saga
Sōka 草加市 Flag of Soka, Saitama.svg 244,8512004-04-01 Kantō Saitama
Takarazuka 宝塚市 Flag of Takarazuka, Hyogo.svg 227,6172003-04-01 Kansai Hyōgo
Tokorozawa 所沢市 Flag of Tokorozawa, Saitama.svg 344,1942002-04-01 Kantō Saitama
Tsukuba つくば市 Flag of Tsukuba, Ibaraki.svg 244,5282007-04-01 Kantō Ibaraki
Yamato 大和市 Flag of Yamato, Kanagawa.svg 230,3572000-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa
Yokkaichi 四日市市 Flag of Yokkaichi, Mie.svg 306,1072000-04-01 Chūbu Mie

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  1. 日本總務省 - 中核市・施行時特例市. soumo.go.jp.
  2. Satoru Ohsugi (2011): The Large City System of Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations and Institute for Comparative Studies in Local Governance, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. – Note: this paper translates tokurei-shi as "special case city" and uses "special city" for tokubetsu-shi