Special wards and other municipalitiesTokyo is composed of 23 special wards and 39 other municipalities, including 26 cities, five towns, and eight villages. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government oversees infrastructure and administration of, for example, water supply, sewerage services, and firefighting in the 23 special wards. Local governments in each ward handle matters such as education, welfare, and housing. 39 other municipalities, by comparison, function as independent bodies and handle services and programs for residents. Additionally, the 39 municipalities finance their budgets directly from regional taxes like inhabitant tax, fixed assets tax, and special land ownership tax. In the 23 wards, the metropolitan government collects the tax revenue and proportionally allocates it to the ward governments.
Municipalities other than the 23 wards have experienced a population decrease resulting from declining birth rates and a growing elderly population in recent years. The metropolitan government subsidizes these municipalities through multiple assistant programs to facilitate further development in the areas despite the diminishing number of inhabitants.
Tokyo centralizationTokyo has continued to attract a lot of migrants from other prefectures. With many renowned universities and business headquarters in the prefecture, young citizens particularly aim to move to Tokyo. As of 2020, Tokyo recorded a net population gain of approximately 38.4 thousand, the highest number by far compared to other metropolitan areas in the country. This tendency over the last decades has led to an overconcentration of Japan’s population in the prefecture. It has accelerated the depopulation in other prefectures, especially in rural areas, and consequently challenged regional economies.
Like other prefectures in the nation, Tokyo is no exception in its vulnerability to natural disasters. Due to the disproportional dependency of Japan on the capital, a natural disaster striking this region would cause catastrophic damage to the nation’s economy. To lessen this overdependency, the revitalization of local economies has been one of the focal points of the Japanese government in recent years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic introduced the possibility of remote work, the government has also promoted migration from Tokyo to other areas. The interest of Tokyo residents in moving to other regions has grown after the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the survey conducted in 2022. It is yet to be seen if this trend will continue in the coming years.