Subprefectures in Hokkaidō
|Administrative divisions of Japan|
Hokkaidō Prefecture has 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 Hokkaidō use the subprefecture name suffixed by -kannai in their address.
History of shichō in Hokkaidō
|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 Hokkaidō Prefecture was established. Hokkaidō Prefecture took over shichō.|
Today, fourteen shichō effectively cover all of Hokkaidō. Technically, the shichō cover only towns and villages, although some commissioned business is conducted for cities.
List of subprefectures
Numbers are those of the map above.
|No.||Subprefecture||Japanese||Capital||Largest city ||Region||Pop. ||Area
|11||Abashiri||網走支庁||Abashiri||22px Kitami||East or North||324,719||10,690.55||30.37||19||4|
|7||Hidaka||日高支庁||22px Urakawa||Shinhidaka||Central or South||81,403||4,811.96||16.92||7||6|
|6||Iburi||胆振支庁||22px Muroran||22px Tomakomai||Central or South||426,627||3,698.00||115.37||11||4|
|8||Kamikawa||上川支庁||22px Asahikawa||22px Asahikawa||North or Central||535,456||9,852.17||54.35||22||5|
|13||Kushiro||釧路支庁||22px Kushiro||22px Kushiro||East||261,883||5,997.38||43.67||8||5|
|14||Nemuro||根室支庁||22px Nemuro||22px Nemuro||East||84,035||3,406.23||24.67||5||3|
|2||Sorachi||空知支庁||22px Iwamizawa||22px Iwamizawa||Central or North||365,563||6,558.22||55.74||25||4|
|10||Sōya||宗谷支庁||22px Wakkanai||22px Wakkanai||North||75,665||4,050.76||18.68||9||5|
|12||Tokachi||十勝支庁||22px Obihiro||22px Obihiro||East||354,147||10,831.24||32.70||19||7|
The prefectural government of Hokkaidō planned to reorganize the current 14 subprefectures into 9 development 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 was going to take effect from April 2009.
However, it is now impossible to make the reform on time. The amendment of the Public Offices Election Act was needed to accomplish the reform, but it is not yet done as of March 2009. It is not clear whether the plan will be really enforced in future. The Liberal Democratic Party is pushing the reform, while the Democratic Party is against it.
List of planned development bureaus
The general development bureaus (総合振興局 sōgō shinkō-kyoku ) are equivalent to the current subprefectures, while the development bureaus (振興局 shinkō-kyoku ) are the branch offices of them.
- Dōō General Development Bureau (道央総合振興局), Iwamizawa, covering Ishikari and Sorachi areas. (Horokanai will belong to Dōhoku General Development Bureau.)
- Ishikari Development Bureau (石狩振興局), Sapporo, covering Ishikari area
- Shiribeshi General Development Bureau (後志総合振興局), Kutchan, covering Shiribeshi area
- Nittan General Development Bureau (日胆総合振興局), Muroran, covering Iburi and Hidaka areas
- Hidaka Development Bureau (日高振興局), Urakawa, covering Hidaka area
- Dōnan General Development Bureau (道南総合振興局), Hakodate, covering Oshima and Hiyama areas
- Hiyama Development Bureau (檜山振興局), Esashi, covering Hiyama area
- Dōhoku General Development Bureau (道北総合振興局), Asahikawa, covering Kamikawa and Rumoi areas
- Rumoi Development Bureau (留萌振興局), Rumoi, covering Rumoi area. (Horonobe will belong to Sōya General Development Bureau.)
- Sōya General Development Bureau (宗谷総合振興局), Wakkanai, covering Sōya area
- Okhotsk General Development Bureau (オホーツク総合振興局), Abashiri, covering Abashiri area
- Tokachi General Development Bureau (十勝総合振興局), Obihiro, covering Tokachi area
- Dōtō General Development Bureau (道東総合振興局), Kushiro, covering Kushiro and Nemuro areas
- Nemuro Development Bureau (根室振興局), Nemuro, covering Nemuro area
- As of March 2009.
- (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