Tokyo Metropolis

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This article is about the present-day Tokyo government. For other uses, see Tokyo (disambiguation).

Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to?), not to be confused with the Tokyo metropolitan area, is the local government of the traditional city of Tokyo (1869–1943) and the associated municipalities of what was formerly Tokyo Prefecture (1869–1943).[1] It is one of Japan's 47 prefectures.


In 1943, the administration of Tokyo city merged with the administration of Tokyo Prefecture. Tokyo prefecture's other municipalities remained Tokyo Metropolis' municipalities.

Between 1943 and 1947 under the Tōkyō tosei (東京都制, roughly "Tokyo Metropolitan system" or "code"), a law that took effect on July 1, 1943.[1] Tōkyō-to served as both the prefectural government for Tokyo and the municipal government for what had previously been Tokyo City.

Tokyo's administrative structure from 1943 to 1947 under the Tōkyō tosei
Prefectural level Tōkyō-to ("Tokyo Metropolis")
formerly Tōkyō-fu
Municipal level (dissolved Tokyo City) 2 remaining cities (shi)
Hachiōji and Tachikawa
Towns (machi) and villages (mura)
in West Tama, North Tama and South Tama counties, island subprefectures
  35 wards (ku)

Since 1947, the former city area is administered in 23 special wards. During the US-led Allied occupation and again since 1975, citizens of special wards are allowed to directly elect their mayors as in other municipalities. In several reforms, municipal responsibilities have been devolved from the Metropolitan to the special ward governments. In 2000, they were formally recognized by law as local public entities on the municipal level; but the Metropolitan government continues to exert some municipal authority, e.g. for fire protection.

Tokyo's administrative structure today
Prefectural level Tōkyō-to ("Tokyo Metropolis")
Municipal level 23 special wards (tokubetsu-ku) 26 cities (shi)
in former North Tama, South Tama counties and parts of West Tama
5 towns (machi) and 8 villages (mura)
in remaining West Tama county, island subprefectures
Note: The prefectural government continues to use the literal translation "special ward" for the 23 tokubetsu-ku. The wards themselves use "city" as the English translation.

Language specifics[edit]

Due to semantic overload, To (都) Do (道) Fu (府) and Ken (県), all 4 are commonly all lumped together and simply translated into English as prefecture, though remain distinct concepts in Japanese. The Japanese words and usage originate in Chinese administration. This overload is apparent in English descriptions of Japanese administrative terms, as are problems of translation fidelity. The term Metropolis was arbitrarily adopted by the Tokyo government to make note of the difference between a Fu and a To, both translated to the same word 'prefecture' in English. In regards to translation fidelity (quality), the Chinese (zh:県) originally referred to a rustic area or mostly closely to the English term county, (zh:府) an urban settlement, (zh:都) a capital or major city, and the Portuguese 'pt:prefeitura' which is translated to English prefecture, refers to a municipality or most closely an English county. Though it suffices to use the term prefecture as a catch-all term, Japanese dictionaries do make note of these distinctions, the online dictionary Tangorin describes a Fu is translated as urban prefecture[2] to distinguish it from a prefecture Ken (県).,[3] as well as todofuken (都道府県) being an administrative division of Japan rather than simply Prefectures of Japan.[4] Major respected dictionary publishers Kodansha and Shogakukan similarly produce their own definitions for (都) Do (道) Fu (府) and Ken (県) into English that avoid the above complications and errors.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Steiner, Kurt. (1965). Local Government in Japan

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°41′N 139°46′E / 35.68°N 139.77°E / 35.68; 139.77