Tosho-Chosonsei (town and village system in islands) (島嶼町村制)

Tosho-Chosonsei is a generic term used to refer to the system implemented in island areas apart from the town and village system implemented in Japan's mainland.

It was implemented in the Izu Island chain of Tokyo (except for Aogashima Village), Oki Islands of Shimane Prefecture, Tsushima of Nagasaki Prefecture, Mishima-mura Village, Tokara Islands and Amami Islands of Kagoshima Prefecture, and Okinawa Prefecture.

Before the town and village system

After the Meiji Restoration, the new government altered the old regional partition in order to undertake establishment of the foundation for a new centralized government. This policy was called Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), under which the daiku-shoku system (a centralized district system that abolished all pre-existing towns, villages and their offices and institutions) was established in 1871 and enforced the next year. This system, however, ended in failure because it neglected regional characteristics to an inappropriate extent.

Next the government established three new bills related to the local government system in 1878, and set towns and villages under one of those bills, Gunkuchoson henseiho (the Law for Reorganization of Counties, Wards, Towns and Villages). Those new bills were abolished due to establishment of the city system and the town and village system in 1888 as well as to establishment of the prefecture system and the county system in 1890.

Island Areas

Island areas were excluded from the city system and the town and village system established in 1888 by the Imperial Edict No.1 of 1889, and had an Island Agency established from time to time. Unlike towns and villages in Japan's mainland, this was a direct rule by the prefectural government, and resembles today's Tokyo Special Wards. In addition, some areas continued to use their old provincial names.

The situations of each island area (described in the present name) in those days were as follows:

The Izu Island chain and Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo

These islands were directly administered by Tokyo Prefecture because they had a small population and because people from Europe and America lived in Ogasawara Islands, and towns and villages were not set until much later. Especially in the case of Ogasawara, it was after the return to the mainland in 1968 that the same public administration system as in the mainland was established.

In 1876 Ashigara Prefecture was abolished and incorporated into Shizuoka Prefecture.

In 1878 it was transferred to Tokyo Prefecture.

In 1900 the Oshima island government and Hachijo island government were established in the Izu Island chain, and the Ogasawara island government in Ogasawara Islands.

In 1923 Tosho-Chosonsei was established in the Izu Island chain (except for the Aogashima island).

In 1926 the island governments were abolished and reorganized into subprefectures.

In 1940 Tosho-Chosonsei in the Izu Island chain was shifted to the regular town and village system, and Aogashima Village was established in the Aogashima island under the regular town and village system at the same time. The regular town and village system was implemented in Ogasawara Islands, too.

In 1946 Ogasawara Islands were put under direct rule by the U.S. Forces.

In 1952, due to the Peace Treaty signed in San Francisco, six villages in Ogasawara Islands were removed from the public administration of the Japanese government, abolished, put under an American trusteeship and remained under the rule of the U.S. Forces.

When they were returned to Japan's mainland by the U.S. Forces in 1968, all the villages within Ogasawara Subprefecture were merged into Ogasawara Village.

Oki Islands, Shimane Prefecture

At first four counties (Ama, Chibu, Suki and Ochi Counties) were established in Oki Islands and they were governed by the respective county offices. However, at the time of designation as tosho (islands) in 1889, Shimane Prefecture abolished the four counties and established the Oki island government, and "Toshi" (governor of the island government) took charge of public administration.

In 1869, Oki Prefecture was established in Oki Province and then incorporated into Omori Prefecture. After that, it had not been decided for a while whether Oki Islands should be incorporated into Shimane Prefecture or Tottori Prefecture.

In 1876 it was decided that they should be incorporated into Shimane Prefecture (and they still belong there).

In 1889 four counties in Oki Islands were abolished and the Oki island government was established.

In 1904 the designation as tosho was eliminated, a town and village system was implemented "in the same manners as in the mainland" and four counties were restored. The authority of the island government (or Toshi) was changed into that of the county office (or the governor of the county) in the mainland.

In 1925 the Oki island government was abolished and Oki Subprefecture of Shimane Prefecture was established.

In 1969 four counties were merged into the present Oki County.

Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture

In 1889 fourteen villages were established in the area of today's Tsushima City.

Mishima-mura Village, Tokara Islands and Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture

The government approved of the direct rule of the prefecture over Amami Islands even after the establishment of Kagoshima Prefecture, in order to raise fund for restoration of Kagoshima's mainland, which had been ruined by the Seinan War. In addition, Magiri System, which had been used since the age of the Ryukyu Kingdom, remained adopted as lower administrative districts under the local office (later, the island government), but some districts changed their name into a village when Gunkuchoson henseiho was enforced.

In 1879, with the enforcement of Gunkuchoson henseiho, Amami Islands, as Oshima County, were incorporated in Osumi Province and named Oshima County, Osumi Province, Kagoshima Prefecture, with its county office established in Kaneku Village.

In 1885 the county office was abolished and the Kaneku local office was established.

In 1886 the Kaneku local office was renamed the Oshima island government, and the governor of the local office was made into Toshi.

In 1897, the island area (Io-jima Island, Kuro-shima Island, Takeshima Island, Kuchi-no-shima Island, Gajajima Island, Tairajima Island, Nakanoshima Island, Akusekijima Island, Suwanose-jima Island and Takarajima Island) of Kawabe-gun, Satsuma Province (Kagoshima Prefecture) were incorporated in Oshima County.

In 1908 Tosho-Chosonsei was enforced and sixteen villages were established.

In 1920 the designation as tosho was eliminated and a town and village system was implemented "in the same manners as in the mainland." In addition, the authority of the island government (or Toshi) was changed into that of the county office (or the governor of the county) in the mainland.

In 1926, with the abolishment of the county system, the island government was renamed Subprefecture, and Toshi became the governor of Subprefecture.

In 1973 Mishima Village and Toshima Village, Oshima County were transferred to Kagoshima Prefecture.

Okinawa Prefecture

Even in the Meiji period, legal systems were not developed in Okinawa Prefecture and the old systems which had been used since the age of the Ryukyu Kingdom were still in effect. The Magiri system was adopted instead of today's towns and villages. However, because of many remaining systems which placed a heavier burden on the residents than in the mainland, people campaigned for the abolishment or improvement of the old systems in various areas in Okinawa, and the government gradually implemented the same systems as in the mainland.

In 1871 the Meiji government implemented Haihan-chiken throughout Japan.

In 1872 the Ryukyu Kingdom was abolished and Ryukyu Domain was established.

In 1879 Ryukyu Domain was abolished and Okinawa Prefecture was established.

In 1896, with the Imperial Edict No.13 of 1896 "Edict concerning organization of counties in Okinawa Prefecture," five counties (Shimajiri, Nakagami, Kunigami, Miyako and Yaeyama Counties) were created and island governments (Toshi) were established in Miyako and Yaeyama. Furthermore, "Naha Ward," the predecessor of "Naha City," and "Shuri Ward," the predecessor of Shuri, were created.

In 1908 Taosho-Chosonsei was enforced and the Magiri system was abolished.

In 1920 the designation as tosho was eliminated and a town and village system was implemented "in the same manners as in the mainland." In addition, the authority of the island governments (or Toshi) was changed into that of the county office (or the governor of the county) in the mainland.

In 1921 "Naha City" was created (as a result of abolishment of the special ward system and enforcement of the regular municipal organization).

Related imperial edicts

The Imperial Edict No.1 of 1889 "Edict concerning designation of tosho for which the town and village system shall not be enforced."

The Imperial Edict No.13 of 1896 "Edict concerning organization of counties in Okinawa Prefecture."

The Imperial Edict No.228 of 1899 "Edict concerning special exceptions of public administration of prefectures in connection with tosho"

The Imperial Edict No.63 of 1904 "Edict concerning the town and village system in Oki Province, Shimane Prefecture."

The Imperial Edict No.45 of 1907 "Edict concerning the change of names and partitions in Magiri Island, Okinawa Prefecture as well as in Izu Seven Islands and Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo Prefecture."

The Imperial Edict No.46 of 1907 "Edict concerning Okinawa Prefecture and Tosho-Chosonsei."

The Imperial Edict No.43 of 1908 "Edict concerning the ward system in Okinawa Prefecture."

The Imperial Edict No.20 of 1909 "Edict concerning special exceptions of the prefecture system in connection with Okinawa Prefecture."

The Imperial Edict No.31 of 1909 "Edict concerning special exceptions made for Okinawa Prefecture in the imperial edicts."

The Imperial Edict No.54 of 1909 "Edict concerning designation of islands on which island governments should be established."

The Imperial Edict No.335 of 1918 "Edict concerning the town and village system in Tsushima Province, Nagasaki Prefecture and Oki Province, Shimane Prefecture."

The Imperial Edict No.190 of 1921 "Edict concerning designation of tosho for which the town and village system shall not be enforced."

The Imperial Edict No.446 of 1943 "Edict concerning designation of tosho for which the town and village system shall not be enforced."