City designated by government ordinance

City designated by government ordinance
Sapporo Hakodate Asahikawa Aomori Hachinohe Morioka Sendai Akita Yamagata Kōriyama Iwaki Mito Tsukuba Utsunomiya Maebashi Takasaki Isesaki Ōta Saitama Kawagoe Kumagaya Kawaguchi Tokorozawa Kasukabe Sōka Koshigaya Chiba Funabashi Kashiwa Yokohama Kawasaki Yokosuka Hiratsuka Odawara, Kanagawa Chigasaki Sagamihara Atsugi Yamato Niigata Nagaoka Jōetsu Toyama Kanazawa Fukui Kōfu Nagano Matsumoto Gifu Shizuoka Hamamatsu Numazu Fuji Nagoya Toyohashi Okazaki Ichinomiya Kasugai Toyota Tsu Yokkaich Ōtsu Kyoto Osaka Sakai Kishiwada Toyonaka Suita Takatsuki Hirakata Ibaraki Yao Neyagawa Higashiōsaka Kobe Himeji Amagasaki Akashi Nishinomiya Kakogawa Takarazuka Nara Wakayama Tottori Okayama Kurashiki Hiroshima Kure Fukuyama Shimonoseki Takamatsu Matsuyama Kōchi Kitakyūshū Fukuoka Kurume Nagasaki Sasebo Kumamoto Ōita Miyazaki Kagoshima
(Circle click-able)
― Designated cities
― Core cities
― Special cities

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 an 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 while 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?), 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 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 therefore cannot be designated.

No cities that have been designated by government ordinance have later lost this status.

List of designated cities

Name Japanese Population (2010) Date of designation Region Prefecture # of wards Divisions
Flag of Chiba, Chiba.svg Chiba 千葉 962,130 1992-04-01 Kantō Chiba 6 List
Flag of Fukuoka City.svg Fukuoka 福岡 1,463,826 1972-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 7 List
Flag of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka.svg Hamamatsu 浜松 800,912 2007-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 7 List
Flag of Hiroshima.svg Hiroshima 広島 1,174,209 1980-04-01 Chūgoku Hiroshima 8 List
Flag of Kawasaki.svg Kawasaki 川崎 1,425,678 1972-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 7 List
Flag of Kitakyushu.png Kitakyūshū 北九州 977,288 1963-04-01 Kyushu Fukuoka 7 List
Flag of Kobe.svg Kobe 神戸 1,544,873 1956-09-01 Kinki Hyōgo 9 List
Flag of Kyoto City.svg Kyoto 京都 1,474,473 1956-09-01 Kinki Kyoto 11 List
Flag of Nagoya.svg Nagoya 名古屋 2,263,907 1956-09-01 Chūbu Aichi 16 List
Flag of Niigata, Niigata.svg Niigata 新潟 812,192 2007-04-01 Chūbu Niigata 8 List
Flag of Okayama, Okayama.svg Okayama 岡山 709,622 2009-04-01 Chūgoku Okayama 4 List
Flag of Osaka City.svg Osaka 大阪 2,666,371 1956-09-01 Kinki Osaka 24 List
Flag of Sagamihara, Kanagawa.svg Sagamihara 相模原 717,561 2010-04-01 Kantō Kanagawa 3 List
Flag of Saitama, Saitama.svg Saitama さいたま 1,222,910 2003-04-01 Kantō Saitama 10 List
Flag of Sakai, Osaka.svg Sakai 842,134 2006-04-01 Kinki Osaka 7 List
Flag of Sapporo, Hokkaido.svg Sapporo 札幌 1,914,434 1972-04-01 Hokkaido Hokkaido 10 List
Flag of Sendai, Miyagi.svg Sendai 仙台 1,045,903 1989-04-01 Tōhoku Miyagi 5 List
Flag of Shizuoka, Shizuoka.svg Shizuoka 静岡 716,328 2005-04-01 Chūbu Shizuoka 3 List
Flag of Yokohama, Kanagawa.svg Yokohama 横浜 3,689,603 1956-09-01 Kantō Kanagawa 18 List

Designated city requirements

Administrative divisions of Japan
Prefectural level
(都道府県 todōfuken)
Subprefectural level
(支庁 shichō)

(郡 gun)

Municipal level
Designated cities
(政令指定都市 seirei-shitei-toshi)

Core cities
(中核市 chūkaku-shi)

Special cities
(特例市 tokurei-shi)

(市 shi)

Special wards (Tokyo)
(特別区 tokubetsu-ku)

(町 chō, machi)

(村 son, mura)

Sub-municipal level
(区 ku)

Map of cities designated by government ordinance
  1. A population greater than 500,000.

Application for designation is made by a city with the approval of both the city and prefectural assemblies.

Scheduled to become a designated city

Region Prefecture Designated City Date of
Number List
Kyushu Kumamoto Flag of Kumamoto, Kumamoto.png Kumamoto 熊本 1 April 2012 TBD TBD


The first form of the designated city system was enacted under Japan's first formalized local government system in 1878 with the introduction of "wards." Under this system, wards existed in every city: most cities had only one, but the largest cities at the time — Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto — were divided into 15, 4 and 2 wards respectively.

The municipal system enacted in 1889 replaced ward assemblies with city assemblies, but retained ward assemblies in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto: in these cities, the city had no assembly of its own but was rather governed by the prefectural assembly. In 1898, these cities were allowed to form city assemblies. This 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 corporate personality and 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?). This 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 1 million within the near future, but this requirement was dropped in 2005 in order to accommodate several geographically large cities formed by mergers under the Koizumi government.


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