Japan, a small archipelago country by land area, has a population of 124.9 million, with over half of the country’s population concentrated in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Local autonomy is ensured by the Constitution, adopting a “fusion type” system where central and local entities are mutually dependent. With 47 prefectures and 1,718 municipalities, local governments provide essential services, and recent amalgamations reduced the number of municipalities. They play a significant role in daily services like police, fire, education, and public welfare. Local government expenditures contribute substantially to the national economy. The 2000 Decentralization Reform aimed to empower local governments and enhance service quality.

Subnational government structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessment

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Japan 2023 (PDF / Excel)

Additional resources

Japan Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

Local government country profile: Japan (UN Women)

Local Government in Japan (2022 Revised Edition). Council of Local Authorities for International Relations. (2022).

White Paper on Local Public Finance, 2023, Illustrated (FY2021 Settlement). Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Government of Japan. (2023).

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Last updated: February 7, 2024