Municipalities of Japan

Map of all Municipalities of Japan including disputed territories.
Administrative divisions
of Japan

Japan has three levels of government: national, [1]. 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, 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.

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