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Special wards of Tokyo

Special form of municipalities in Honshu, Japan / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Special wards (特別区, tokubetsu-ku) are a special form of municipalities in Japan under the 1947 Local Autonomy Law. They are city-level wards: primary subdivisions of a prefecture with municipal autonomy largely comparable to other forms of municipalities.

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Special wards of Tokyo
Shinjuku, one of Tokyo's special wards
Shinjuku, one of Tokyo's special wards
Located in the green highlights
Located in the green highlights
Location of Special wards of Tokyo
  Special wards619 km2 (239 sq mi)
 (October 1, 2020)
  Special wards9,733,276
  Density16,000/km2 (41,000/sq mi)

Although the autonomy law today allows for special wards to be established in other prefectures, to date, they only exist in the Tokyo Metropolis, which consists of 23 special wards and 39 other, ordinary municipalities (cities, towns, and villages).[1] The special wards of Tokyo occupy the land that was Tokyo City in its 1936 borders before it was abolished under the Tōjō Cabinet in 1943 to become directly ruled by the prefectural government, then renamed to "Metropolitan". During the Occupation of Japan, municipal autonomy was restored to former Tokyo City by the establishment of special wards, each with directly elected mayor and assembly, as in any other city, town or village in Tokyo and the rest of the country. Minority, mostly leftist, calls for a restoration of Tokyo City (東京市復活, Tōkyō-shi fukkatsu) were not answered.[citation needed] The question of whether special wards actually are municipalities with full local autonomy rights at all remained a political and legal issue for decades.[citation needed]

In Japanese, they are collectively also known as "Wards area of Tokyo Metropolis" (東京都区部, Tōkyō-to kubu), "former Tokyo City" (旧東京市, kyū-Tōkyō-shi), or less formally the 23 wards (23区, nijūsan-ku) or just Tokyo (東京, Tōkyō) if the context makes obvious that this does not refer to the whole prefecture. Today, all wards refer to themselves as a city in English, but the Japanese designation of special ward (tokubetsu-ku) remains unchanged. They are a group of 23 municipalities; there is no associated single government body separate from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government which governs all 62 municipalities of Tokyo, not only the special wards.