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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 as such.

No city designated by government ordinance has ever lost that status.

List of designated cities

Cities designated by government ordinance of Japan is located in Japan
Designated cites in Japan (except for Kanto region and Kansai area)
7: Okayama, 8: Hiroshima, 9: Kitakyushu
Cities designated by government ordinance of Japan is located in Kanto Area
Designated cites in Kanto region area
Cities designated by government ordinance of Japan is located in Kansai region
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
Flag of Chiba, Chiba.svg
Emblem of Chiba, Chiba.svg
271.77 972,861 3,613 1992-04-01 Kantō Chiba 06 List
Chiba in Chiba Prefecture Ja.svg
Fukuoka 福岡市
Flag of Fukuoka City.png
Emblem of Fukuoka, Fukuoka.svg
343.39 1,579,450 4,668 1972-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 07 List
Fukuoka City in Fukuoka Prefecture Ja.svg
Hamamatsu 浜松市
Flag of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka.svg
Symbol of Hamamatsu Shizuoka chapter.svg
1,558.06 795,350 506 2007-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 07 List
Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture Ja.svg
Hiroshima 広島市
Flag of Hiroshima, Hiroshima.svg
Emblem of Hiroshima, Hiroshima.svg
906.68 1,194,524 1,321 1980-04-01 Chūgoku Hiroshima 08 List
Hiroshima in Hiroshima Prefecture Ja.svg
Kawasaki 川崎市
Flag of Kawasaki, Kanagawa.svg
143.01 1,503,690 10,765 1972-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 07 List
Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg
Kitakyushu 北九州市
Flag of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.svg
Symbol of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka.svg
491.95 945,595 1,901 1963-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 07 List
Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture Ja.svg
Kobe 神戸市
Flag of Kobe.svg
Emblem of Kobe, Hyogo.svg
557.02 1,526,639 2,719 1956-09-01 Kansai Hyōgo 09 List
Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture Ja.svg
Kumamoto 熊本市
Flag of Kumamoto, Kumamoto.svg
Emblem of Kumamoto, Kumamoto.svg
390.32 737,812 1,892 2012-04-01 Kyushu Kumamoto 05 List
Kumamoto in Kumamoto Prefecture Ja.svg
Kyoto 京都市
Flag of Kyoto City.svg
Emblem of Kyoto, Kyoto.svg
827.83 1,468,980 1,758 1956-09-01 Kansai Kyoto 11 List
Kyoto in Kyoto Prefecture Ja.svg
Nagoya 名古屋市
Flag of Nagoya, Aichi.svg
Emblem of Nagoya, Aichi.svg
326.45 2,283,289 7,128 1956-09-01 Chūbu Aichi 16 List
Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture Ja.svg
Niigata 新潟市
Flag of Niigata, Niigata.svg
Emblem of Niigata, Niigata.svg
726.45 807,450 1,089 2007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata 08 List
Niigata in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Okayama 岡山市
Flag of Okayama, Okayama.png
Emblem of Okayama, Okayama.svg
789.95 720,841 912 2009-04-01 Chūgoku Okayama 04 List
Okayama in Okayama Prefecture Ja.svg
Osaka 大阪市
Flag of Osaka, Osaka.svg
Emblem of Osaka, Osaka.svg
225.21 2,727,255 12,226 1956-09-01 Kansai Osaka 24 List
Osaka in Osaka Prefecture Ja.svg
Sagamihara 相模原市
Flag of Sagamihara, Kanagawa.svg
328.91 720,986 2,198 2010-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 03 List
Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg
Saitama さいたま市
Flag of Saitama, Saitama.svg
Emblem of Saitama, Saitama.svg
217.43 1,226,656 6,072 2003-04-01 Kantō Saitama 10 List
Saitama in Saitama Prefecture Ja.svg
Sakai 堺市
Flag of Sakai, Osaka.svg
Emblem of Sakai, Osaka.svg
149.82 833,544 5,500 2006-04-01 Kansai Osaka 07 List
Sakai in Osaka Prefecture Ja.svg
Sapporo 札幌市
Flag of Sapporo, Hokkaido.svg
Symbol of Sapporo, Hokkaido.svg
1,121.26 1,955,115 1,750 1972-04-01 Hokkaido Hokkaido 10 List
Location of Sapporo city Hokkaido Japan.svg
Sendai 仙台市
Flag of Sendai, Miyagi.svg
Symbol of Sendai, Miyagi.svg
786.30 1,088,669 1,389 1989-04-01 Tōhoku Miyagi 05 List
Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture Ja.svg
Shizuoka 静岡市
Flag of Shizuoka, Shizuoka.svg
Emblem of Shizuoka, Shizuoka.svg
1,411.90 697,578 486 2005-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 03 List
Location of Shizuoka city Shizuoka prefecture Japan.svg
Yokohama 横浜市
Flag of Yokohama, Kanagawa.svg
Emblem of Yokohama, Kanagawa.svg
437.56 3,732,616 8,588 1956-09-01 Kantō Kanagawa 18 List
Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture Ja.svg

Designated city requirements

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
Flag of Funabashi, Chiba.svg
Emblem of Funabashi, Chiba.svg
85.62 610,492 Kantō Chiba
Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture Ja.svg
Hachiōji 八王子市
Flag of Hachioji, Tokyo.svg
Emblem of Hachiōji, Tokyo.svg
186.38 579,799 Kantō Tokyo
Hachioji in Tokyo Prefecture Ja.svg
Higashiōsaka 東大阪市
Flag of Higashiosaka, Osaka.svg
Emblem of Higashiosaka.svg
61.78 508,267 Kansai Osaka
Higashiosaka in Osaka Prefecture Ja.svg
Himeji 姫路市
Flag of Himeji, Hyogo.svg
Symbol of Himeji, Hyogo.svg
534.43 536,218 Kansai Hyōgo
Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture Ja.svg
Kagoshima 鹿児島市
Flag of Kagoshima, Kagoshima.svg
Symbol of Kagoshima, Kagoshima.svg
547.58 607,257 Kyushu Kagoshima
Location of Kagoshima city Kagoshima prefecture Japan.svg
Kawaguchi 川口市
Flag of Kawaguchi, Saitama.svg
61.95 561,788 Kantō Saitama
Kawaguchi in Saitama Prefecture Ja.svg
Matsuyama 松山市
Flag of Matsuyama, Ehime.svg
Emblem of Matsuyama, Ehime.svg
429.40 516,823 Shikoku Ehime
Utsunomiya 宇都宮市
Flag of Utsunomiya, Tochigi.svg
Emblem of Utsunomiya, Tochigi.svg
416.85 513,722 Kantō Tochigi
Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture Ja.svg


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 also


  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.