|Anthem: Yamaguchi kenmin no uta|
|Subdivisions||Districts: 4, Municipalities: 19|
|• Governor||Tsugumasa Muraoka|
|• Total||6,112.30 km2 (2,359.97 sq mi)|
(February 1, 2018)
|• Density||225.43/km2 (583.9/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||JP-35|
|Bird||Hooded crane (Grus monacha)|
|Fish||Japanese puffer (Takifugu rubripes)|
|Flower||Bitter summer mandarin blossom (Citrus natsudaidai)|
|Tree||Red pine tree (Pinus densiflora)|
Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県, Yamaguchi-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu. Yamaguchi Prefecture has a population of 1,377,631 (1 February 2018) and has a geographic area of 6,112 km2 (2,359 sq mi). Yamaguchi Prefecture borders Shimane Prefecture to the north and Hiroshima Prefecture to the northeast.
Yamaguchi is the capital and Shimonoseki is the largest city of Yamaguchi Prefecture, with other major cities including Ube, Shūnan, and Iwakuni. Yamaguchi Prefecture is located at the western tip of Honshu with coastlines on the Sea of Japan and Seto Inland Sea, and separated from the island of Kyushu by the Kanmon Straits.
Yamaguchi Prefecture was created by the merger of the provinces of Suō and Nagato. During the rise of the samurai class during the Heian and Kamakura Periods (794–1333), the Ouchi family of Suō Province and the Koto family of Nagato Province gained influence as powerful warrior clans. In the Muromachi period (1336—1573), Ouchi Hiroyo, the 24th ruler of the Ouchi family conquered both areas of Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Ouchi clan imitated the city planning of Kyoto. They gained great wealth through cultural imports from the continent and trade with Korea and Ming Dynasty China. As a result, Yamaguchi came to be known as the "Kyoto of the West," and Ouchi culture flourished. Sue Harutaka defeated the 31st ruler of the Ouchi clan. The Sue clan was then defeated by Mōri Motonari, and the Mōri family gained control of the Chūgoku region. Yamaguchi was ruled as part of the Mōri clan domain during the Sengoku period. Mōri Terumoto was then defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was forced to give up all his land except for the Suō and Nagato areas (current-day Yamaguchi Prefecture), where he built his castle in Hagi. Mōri sought to strengthen the economic base of the region and increase local production with his Three Whites campaign (salt, rice, and paper).
After Commodore Matthew Perry's opening of Japan, clans from Nagato (also called Chōshū) played a key role in the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the establishment of the new imperial government. Four years after the Edo Shogunate was overthrown and the Meiji government formed in 1868, the present Yamaguchi Prefecture was established. The Meiji government brought in many new systems and modern policies, and promoted the introduction of modern industry, though the prefecture was still centered on agriculture during this period. In the Taishō period, from 1912 to 1926, shipbuilding, chemical, machinery, and metal working plants were built in Yamaguchi's harbors in the Seto Inland Sea area. During the post-World War II Shōwa Period, Yamaguchi developed into one of the most industrialized prefectures in the country due to the establishment of petrochemical complexes.
As of April 1, 2012, 7% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Setonaikai National Park; Akiyoshidai, Kita-Nagato Kaigan, and Nishi-Chūgoku Sanchi Quasi-National Parks; and Chōmonkyō, Iwakiyama, Rakanzan, and Toyota Prefectural Natural Parks.
See also: List of cities in Yamaguchi Prefecture by population
Main article: List of mergers in Yamaguchi Prefecture
For the purposes of development analysis, Yamaguchi is construed to be part of Northern Kyushu. Although Yamaguchi is not part of the island of Kyushu, it has become a functional satellite of the Kanmon Straits metropolitan area.
Per Japanese census data, Yamaguchi prefecture has had negative population growth from 1955 to 1973 and 1985–onwards
The most popular place for tourism is Shimonoseki, which has the Karato Fish Market and a large fireworks festival in summer.
Another attraction is the Kintai Bridge in the town of Iwakuni. This five-arched wooden structure is considered a symbol of Western Honshū. The area on the banks of the Nishiki river close to the bridge is considered among the best places in Japan for Hanami, when groups of family and friends gather in early April to view cherry blossoms.
Hagi City is in the north of Yamaguchi. It is a very traditional city. The usual color of Japanese post boxes is red, but in Hagi they are painted green or brown. The Hagi Museum is modeled after a traditional samurai residence. The exhibits are detailed and realistic, and are changed every year. The permanent collection is data about Hagi's history and collections about Takasugi Shinsaku. Hagi also contains a reverberatory furnace which has been designated a World Heritage Site.
Kawara soba (hot tile noodles) is a popular dish in Yamaguchi. It was developed during the Seinan Rebellion when soldiers cooked wild grass and meat on hot tiles. Today people in Yamaguchi create this dish by frying green tea noodles on a hot tile, and arranging a thin fried egg, stewed beef, green onions, and grilled liver on top.
Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park, which includes Japan's longest cave, the Akiyoshido (秋芳洞), is another popular destination.
Two ferry services provide regular sea transport from the Shimonoseki Port International Terminal: Kanpu Ferry provides round-trip service to Busan, South Korea; the Orient Ferry provides round-trip service to Qingdao and Shanghai, respectively.
Yamaguchi Prefecture has alliance with the following five districts.
Since the Meiji Restoration in which lower-rank nobility from Chōshū played a major role, many politicians from Yamaguchi have held important positions in national politics. In the post-war era, the most prominent political family from Yamaguchi is the Kishi-Abe/Satō prime ministerial dynasty, and Yamaguchi is leaning solidly towards the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Since the electoral reform of the 1990s, Yamaguchi elects four members directly to the House of Representatives. Three of the new single-member districts have been held exclusively by Liberal Democrats as of 2013, the easternmost district bordering Hiroshima was initially won by Shinji Satō (Eisaku Satō's son) in 1996, but went to Democrat Hideo Hiraoka in several later elections. Currently, following the 2021 general election, Yamaguchi's directly elected delegation to the lower house consists of former LDP vice president Masahiko Kōmura (1st district, 12th term), the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Nobuo Kishi (2nd district, 2nd term, former two-term member of the House of Councillors), and the chairman of the House of Representatives rules committee (as of 190th Diet, January 2016), Yoshimasa Hayashi (3rd district, 1st term). The seat for the 4th district was held by former prime minister Shinzo Abe until his assassination in 2022, and is currently vacant. For the proportional representation segment of the House of Representatives, Yamaguchi forms part of the Chūgoku block.
In the House of Councillors, Yamaguchi is represented by two members, making it one of the currently 31 winner-take-all single-member districts. As of 2013, the two members are Yoshimasa Hayashi (LDP, 4th term, up in 2019), agriculture minister in the 2nd Abe Cabinet, and following the April 2013 by-election to replace Nobuo Kishi, Kiyoshi Ejima (LDP, 1st term, up in 2016), former mayor of Shimonoseki city.
The current governor of Yamaguchi is former MIC bureaucrat Tsugumasa Muraoka. He won the gubernatorial election in February 2014 with more than 60% of the vote against other two candidates, and succeeded Shigetarō Yamamoto who had been hospitalized since October 2013 and resigned in January 2014.
Elected governors of Yamaguchi have been:
The prefectural assembly of Yamaguchi has 47 members, elected in unified local elections in 15 electoral districts: 5 single-member districts, four two-member districts and six districts that elect each between four and nine members. In the 2015 election, the LDP won a majority. Liberal Democrats form several parliamentary groups together with independents. As of June 8, 2015, the assembly is composed as follows: LDP 24 members, LDP Shinseikai 5, Kōmeitō 5, DPJ/Rengō no Kai 4, LDP Kensei Club 2, JCP 2, SDP/Citizens League 2, and the independent "groups" shinsei club, mushozoku no kai and kusa no ne have one member each.