Special cities of Japan

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A special city (特例市, Tokureishi) of Japan was a category of cities in Japan in operation until 2015. Each special city had a population of at least 200,000, and was delegated functions[ specify ] normally carried out by prefectural governments. Those functions were a subset of the functions that were delegated to core cities.


The category of special cities was established by the Local Autonomy Law, article 252 clause 26. They were designated by the Cabinet after a request by a city council and a prefectural assembly.

Because the level of autonomy delegated to special cities was 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. Cities with a population of at least 200,000 may now apply to be directly promoted to core city status. Special cities that 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), but this is regarded as a temporary arrangement. [1]

The special cities were not the same as the special wards of Tokyo. They were also different from the special (designated) cities (特別市, tokubetsu-shi) that were legally established under the Local Autonomy Law between 1947 and 1956, in an arrangement that was 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 that have expanded autonomy, but not full independence from prefectures. [2]

List of special cities

As of 2015, when the category was abolished, 23 cities had been designated special cities:

NameJapaneseFlagEmblemArea (km2)Population (2012)Date of designationRegionPrefectureMap
Atsugi 厚木市 Flag of Atsugi, Kanagawa.svg Shen Nai Chuan Xian Hou Mu Shi Shi Zhang .svg 93.83224,1812002-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg
Chigasaki 茅ヶ崎市 Flag of Chigasaki, Kanagawa.svg Shen Nai Chuan Xian Mao keQi Shi Shi Zhang .svg 35.71239,8742003-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa Chigasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg
Fuji 富士市 Flag of Fuji, Shizuoka.svg Emblem of Fuji, Shizuoka.svg 244.95245,0152001-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture Ja.svg
Hiratsuka 平塚市 Flag of Hiratsuka, Kanagawa.svg Shen Nai Chuan Xian Ping Zhong Shi Shi Zhang .svg 67.88260,0612001-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa Hiratsuka in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg
Ibaraki 茨木市 Flag of Ibaraki, Osaka.svg Emblem of Ibaraki, Osaka.svg 76.52276,4742001-04-01 Kansai Osaka Ibaraki in Osaka Prefecture Ja.svg
Isesaki 伊勢崎市 Flag of Isesaki, Gunma.svg Emblem of Isesaki, Gunma.svg 139.44207,2532007-04-01 Kantō Gunma Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture Ja.svg
Jōetsu 上越市 Flag of Joetsu, Niigata.svg Symbol of Joetsu Niigata.svg 973.81202,3662007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata Joetsu in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Kakogawa 加古川市 Flag of Kakogawa, Hyogo.svg Emblem of Kakogawa, Hyogo.svg 138.51268,1752002-04-01 Kansai Hyōgo Kakogawa in Hyogo Prefecture Ja.svg
Kasugai 春日井市 Flag of Kasugai, Aichi.svg Emblem of Kasugai, Aichi.svg 92.78306,5732002-04-01 Chūbu Aichi Kasugai in Aichi Prefecture Ja.svg
Kasukabe 春日部市 Flag of Kasukabe, Saitama.svg Emblem of Kasukabe, Saitama.svg 66.00236,9762008-04-01 Kantō Saitama Kasukabe in Saitama Prefecture Ja.svg
Kishiwada 岸和田市 Flag of Kishiwada, Osaka.svg Emblem of Kishiwada, Osaka.svg 72.68197,6292002-04-01 Kansai Osaka Kishiwada in Osaka Prefecture Ja.svg
Kumagaya 熊谷市 Flag of Kumagaya, Saitama.svg Qi Yu Xian Xiong Gu Shi Shi Zhang .svg 159.82201,8142009-04-01 Kantō Saitama Location of Kumagaya city Saitama prefecture Japan.svg
Nagaoka 長岡市 Flag of Nagaoka, Niigata.svg Emblem of Nagaoka, Niigata.svg 891.06281,1012007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Numazu 沼津市 Flag of Numazu, Shizuoka.svg Jing Gang Xian Zhao Jin Shi Shi Zhang .svg 186.96199,8832000-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture Ja.svg
Odawara 小田原市 Flag of Odawara, Kanagawa.svg Shen Nai Chuan Xian Xiao Tian Yuan Shi Shi Zhang .svg 113.79194,6722000-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa Ji Chu Zi Zhi Ti Wei Zhi Tu 14206.svg
Ōta 太田市 Flag of Ota, Gunma.svg Emblem of Ota, Gunma.svg 175.54217,1072007-04-01 Kantō Gunma Ota in Gunma Prefecture Ja.svg
Saga 佐賀市 Flag of Saga, Saga.svg Emblem of Saga, Saga.svg 431.84237,5012014-04-01 Kyushu Saga Saga in Saga Prefecture Ja.svg
Sōka 草加市 Flag of Soka, Saitama.svg Emblem of Soka, Saitama.svg 27.46244,8512004-04-01 Kantō Saitama Soka in Saitama Prefecture Ja.svg
Takarazuka 宝塚市 Flag of Takarazuka, Hyogo.svg Emblem of Takaraduka, Hyogo.svg 101.89227,6172003-04-01 Kansai Hyōgo Takarazuka in Hyogo Prefecture Ja.svg
Tokorozawa 所沢市 Flag of Tokorozawa, Saitama.svg Emblem of Tokorozawa, Saitama.svg 72.11344,1942002-04-01 Kantō Saitama Tokorozawa in Saitama Prefecture Ja.svg
Tsukuba つくば市 Flag of Tsukuba, Ibaraki.svg Symbol of Tsukuba Ibaraki.svg 283.72244,5282007-04-01 Kantō Ibaraki Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture Ja.svg
Yamato 大和市 Flag of Yamato, Kanagawa.svg Shen Nai Chuan Xian Da He Shi Shi Zhang .svg 27.09230,3572000-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa Yamato in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg
Yokkaichi 四日市市 Flag of Yokkaichi, Mie.svg Emblem of Yokkaichi, Mie.svg 206.44306,1072000-04-01 Chūbu Mie Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture Ja.svg

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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