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A special city (特例市 Tokureishi) of Japan is a city with a population of at least 200,000, and is delegated functions[specify] normally carried out by prefectural governments. Those functions are a subset of the ones delegated to a core city.
This category was established by the Local Autonomy Law, article 252 clause 26. They are designated by the Cabinet after a request by the city council and the prefectural assembly.
Because the level of autonomy delegated to special cities are similar to core cities, after consultation with local governments, the category of special cities was abolished in the revision of the Local Autonomy Act enacted on April 1, 2015, and cities with a population of at least 200,000 may apply to be directly promoted to core city status. Special cities which have not been promoted may still retain its autonomy, and are called special cities at enforcement (施行時特例市 Shikōji Tokurei shi). As a special case, within 5 years of the abolishment of the category of special cities, i.e. before April 1, 2020, special cities with a population under 200,000 may also apply to be promoted to core city status.
The special cities are not the same as the special wards of Tokyo. They are also different from special cities (特別市, tokubetsu-shi) that were legally established in the Local Autonomy Law between 1947 and 1956, but never implemented. They would have been prefecture-independent cities (in an analogous way, special wards are city-independent wards). They were the legal successors to the 1922 "six major cities" (roku daitoshi; only five were left in 1947 as Tokyo City had been abolished in the war) and precursors to the 1956 designated major cites which have expanded autonomy, but not full independence from prefectures.
As of 1 April 2018, 31 cities have been designated special cities:
|Name||Japanese||Population (2012)||Date of designation||Region||Prefecture|
|Name||Japanese||Date of designation||Date of reclassification||Region||Prefecture|
|Shimizu||清水市||2001-04-01||2003-04-01 (merge into Shizuoka - a Designated city)||Chūbu||Shizuoka|
|Shimonoseki||下関市||2002-04-01||2005-02-12 (Core city)||Chūgoku||Yamaguchi|
|Hakodate||函館市||2000-11-01||2005-10-01 (Core city)||Hokkaido||Hokkaido|
|Morioka||盛岡市||2000-11-01||2008-04-01 (Core city)||Tōhoku||Iwate|
|Kurume||久留米市||2001-04-01||2008-04-01 (Core city)||Kyushu||Fukuoka|
|Maebashi||前橋市||2001-04-01||2009-04-01 (Core city)||Kantō||Gunma|
|Ōtsu||大津市||2001-04-01||2009-04-01 (Core city)||Kansai||Shiga|
|Amagasaki||尼崎市||2001-04-01||2009-04-01 (Core city)||Kansai||Hyōgo|
|Takasaki||高崎市||2001-04-01||2011-04-01 (Core city)||Kantō||Gunma|
|Toyonaka||豊中市||2001-04-01||2012-04-01 (Core city)||Kansai||Osaka|
|Hirakata||枚方市||2001-04-01||2014-04-01 (Core city)||Kansai||Osaka|
|Koshigaya||越谷市||2003-04-01||2015-04-01 (Core city)||Kantō||Saitama|
|Kure||呉市||2000-04-01||2016-04-01 (Core city)||Chūgoku||Hiroshima|
|Sasebo||佐世保市||2001-04-01||2016-04-01 (Core city)||Kyushu||Nagasaki|
|Hachinohe||八戸市||2001-04-01||2017-01-01 (Core city)||Tōhoku||Aomori|
|Akashi||明石市||2002-04-01||2018-04-01 (Core city)||Kansai||Hyōgo|
|Kawaguchi||川口市||2001-04-01||2018-04-01 (Core city)||Kantō||Saitama|
|Matsue||松江市||2012-04-01||2018-04-01 (Core city)||Chūgoku||Shimane|
|Tottori||鳥取市||2005-04-01||2018-04-01 (Core city)||Chūgoku||Tottori|
|Yao||八尾市||2001-04-01||2018-04-01 (Core city)||Kansai||Osaka|
The following cities have the population of more than 200,000 people but have not yet been designated (Scheduled to become a special city are not in this list)