Subprefectures of Hokkaido
Hokkaido Prefecture had 14 branch offices called 支庁 (shichō) in Japanese, which is often translated in English as subprefectures. Normally, a subprefecture consists of a few to a dozen cities, towns, and/or villages.
For historical reasons, some older people in Hokkaido use the subprefecture name suffixed by -kannai in their address.
History of shichō in Hokkaido
|1897||Nineteen shichō were placed under Hokkaido Agency (an agency of the national government): Sapporo, Hakodate, Kameda, Matsumae, Hiyama, Suttsu, Iwanai, Otaru, Sorachi, Kamikawa, Mashike, Souya, Abashiri, Muroran, Urakawa, Kushiro, Kasai, Nemuro, and Shana.|
|1899||Sapporo-ku, Hakodate-ku, and Otaru-ku were established as municipalities independent of shichō. Sapporo-shichō and Otaru-shichō were continued with remaining area, but Hakodate-shichō was dissolved. Previous Kameda-shichō was renamed Hokodate-shichō.|
|1903||Matsumae-shichō was merged with Hakodate-shichō. Shana-shichō was merged with Nemuro-shichō.|
|1910||Suttsu-shichō, Iwanai-shichō, and Otaru-shichō were merged to form Shiribeshi-shichō.|
|1914||Asahikawa-ku was established as a municipality independent of Kamikawa-shichō. Mashike-shichō was renamed as Rumoi-shichō.|
|1918||Muroran-ku was established as a municipality independent of Muroran-shichō.|
|1920||Kushiro-ku was established as a municipality independent of Kushiro-shichō.|
|1922||The six ku were restated as shi (cities). Sapporo-shichō was renamed Ishikari-shichō. Hakodate-shichō was renamed Oshima-shichō. Muroran-shichō was renamed Iburi-shichō.|
|1932||Urakawa-shichō was renamed Hidaka-shichō. Kasai-shichō was renamed Tokachi-shichō.|
|1947||Hokkaido Agency was abolished and Hokkaido Prefecture was established. Hokkaido Prefecture took over shichō.|
Today, fourteen shichō effectively cover all of Hokkaido. Technically, the shichō cover only towns and villages, although some commissioned business is conducted for cities.
List of subprefectures
|1||Sorachi||空知総合振興局||Iwamizawa||Iwamizawa||338,485||5,791.19||10 cities||14 towns|
|a||↳ Ishikari||石狩振興局||Sapporo||Sapporo||2,324,878||3,539.86||6 cities||1 town||1 village|
|2||Shiribeshi||後志総合振興局||Kutchan||Otaru||234,984||4,305.83||1 city||13 towns||6 villages|
|3||Iburi||胆振総合振興局||Muroran||Tomakomai||419,115||3,698.00||4 cities||7 towns|
|b||↳ Hidaka||日高振興局||Urakawa||Shinhidaka||76,084||4,811.97||7 towns|
|4||Oshima||渡島総合振興局||Hakodate||Hakodate||433,475||3,936.46||2 cities||9 towns|
|c||↳ Hiyama||檜山振興局||Esashi||Setana||43,210||2,629.94||7 towns|
|5||Kamikawa||上川総合振興局||Asahikawa||Asahikawa||527,575||10,619.20||4 cities||17 towns||2 villages|
|d||↳ Rumoi||留萌振興局||Rumoi||Rumoi||53,916||3,445.75||1 city||6 towns||1 village|
|6||Sōya||宗谷総合振興局||Wakkanai||Wakkanai||71,423||4,625.09||1 city||8 towns||1 village|
|7||Okhotsk||オホーツク総合振興局||Abashiri||Kitami||309,487||10,690.62||3 cities||14 towns||1 village|
|8||Tokachi||十勝総合振興局||Obihiro||Obihiro||353,291||10,831.24||1 city||16 towns||2 villages|
|9||Kushiro||釧路総合振興局||Kushiro||Kushiro||252,571||5,997.38||1 city||6 towns||1 village|
|e||↳ Nemuro||根室振興局||Nemuro||Nemuro||84,035||3,406.23||1 city||4 towns||
|* Japan claims the southern part of Kuril Islands (Northern Territories), currently administered by Russia,
belong to Nemuro Subprefecture divided into six villages. However, the table above excludes these islands' data.
The prefectural government of Hokkaido planned to reorganize the current 14 subprefectures into 9 subprefectural bureaus. Five subprefectures, namely Hidaka, Hiyama, Ishikari, Nemuro, and Rumoi were subject to be cut down. The capital municipalities of these subprefectures opposed the plan, but on June 28, 2008, the prefectural council passed the ordinance of the reorganization. The change should have taken effect in April 2009.
However, it was impossible to make the reform on time. The Public Offices Election Act and the Election Law were not amended on April 1, 2009, but the amendment the Public Offices Election Act was passed in the prefectural assembly on March 31, 2009 and took effect from April 1, 2010.
List of subprefectural bureaus
- Sorachi General Subprefectural Bureau (空知総合振興局), Iwamizawa, covering Ishikari and Sorachi areas. (Horokanai belongs to Kamikawa Subprefectural Bureau.)
- Ishikari Subprefectural Bureau (石狩振興局), Sapporo, covering Ishikari area
- Shiribeshi General Subprefectural Bureau (後志総合振興局), Kutchan, covering Shiribeshi area
- Iburi General Subprefectural Bureau (胆振総合振興局), Muroran, covering Iburi and Hidaka areas
- Hidaka Subprefectural Bureau (日高振興局), Urakawa, covering Hidaka area
- Oshima General Subprefectural Bureau (渡島総合振興局), Hakodate, covering Oshima and Hiyama areas
- Hiyama Subprefectural Bureau (檜山振興局), Esashi, covering Hiyama area
- Kamikawa General Subprefectural Bureau (上川総合振興局), Asahikawa, covering Kamikawa and Rumoi areas
- Sōya General Subprefectural Bureau (宗谷総合振興局), Wakkanai, covering Sōya area
- Okhotsk General Subprefectural Bureau (オホーツク総合振興局), Abashiri, covering Abashiri area
- Tokachi General Subprefectural Bureau (十勝総合振興局), Obihiro, covering Tokachi area
- Kushiro General Subprefectural Bureau (釧路総合振興局), Kushiro, covering Kushiro and Nemuro areas
- Nemuro Subprefectural Bureau (根室振興局), Nemuro, covering Nemuro area
- (Japanese) 釧路支庁が道東総合振興局に、道の支庁改革条例成立 (Kushiro Subprefecture will be Dōtō General Development Bureau, the ordinance for the subprefetural reformation is passed), by Kushiro Shinbun, June 29, 2008