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Administrative divisions of Japan


Japan is divided into forty-seven administrative divisions, the prefectures: one metropolitan district (to—Tokyo), two urban prefectures (fu—Kyoto and Osaka), forty-three rural prefectures (ken), and one "district" (note district is different from gun which appears later). Large cities are subdivided into wards (ku), and further split into towns, or precincts (machi), or subprefecture and counties (gun).


Cities (shi) are self-governing units administered independently of the larger jurisdictions within which they are located. In order to attain shi status, a jurisdiction must have at least 30,000 inhabitants, 60 percent of whom are engaged in urban occupations. The terms machi; designate self-governing towns outside the cities as well as precincts of urban wards. 

Like the cities, each has its own elected mayor and assembly. Villages (son or mura) are the smallest self-governing entities in rural areas. They often consist of a number of rural hamlets (buraku) containing several thousand people connected to one another through the formally imposed framework of village administration. Villages have mayors and councils elected to four-years terms.