Fun Facts #1: Comparative GDPs of J Prefectures


Hello Blog. Kicking off my first installment of FUN FACTS–an occasional series of interesting articles I’ve found and blogged for posterity. Not necessarily internationalization- or immigration-related, but fun to know nonetheless.

I’ve heard many times from people that Japanese newspapers and media are boring. But that’s often because the bored don’t know where to look. For example, have a look at this article from February 7, 2007’s Asahi Shinbun (pg 23) (click on image to see entire image; some English translation follows article):


The article talks about PM Abe’s vision of “doushuusei”, the consolidation of prefectures, to cut down on local government costs and maybe even (*cough*–pipe dream at this stage) devolving more power to more self-sufficient local governments.

If Japan’s 47 prefectures/municipal governments were cut down to eleven regions (see chart above), this would produce the following results: (All figures for GDP are dated 2003 (I won’t bother to convert), and population figures from the 2005 Census.)

1) HOKKAIDO (population 5.63 million) would be the world’s 36th largest economy, around the size of PORTUGAL.
2) TOUHOKU (pop. 9.63 million), 25th, around the size of NORWAY.
3) NORTH KANTO (pop. 16.27 million) 17th, between SWITZERLAND and HOLLAND.
4) SOUTH KANTO (including Tokyo and Yokohama, pop. 28.30 million), 8th, around the size of CANADA.
5) TOUKAI (including Nagoya, pop. 15.02 million), 17th, around the size of HOLLAND.
6) SHIKOKU (pop. 4.09 million), 41st, around the size of SINGAPORE.
7) OKINAWA (pop. 1.36 million), 64th, around the size of LUXEMBOURG.
8) HOKURIKU (pop. 5.54 million), 32nd, around the size of ARGENTINA.
9) KANSAI (pop. 20.89 million), 16th, around the size of AUSTRALIA.
10) CHUUGOKU (pop. 7.68 million), 27th, around the size of SOUTH AFRICA.
11) KYUSHU (pop. 13.35 million), 17th, around the size of SWITZERLAND.

I’ll let readers knead and pull the stats for a bit–dividing GDP sizes by population etc. But from this you can get an inkling of which parts of Japan are richest and poorest, and which are more or less likely to be self-sufficient (if the tax-hungry and control-freak national government would ever allow any political devolution to the provinces; fat chance at this stage) post-Doushuusei on an economic basis alone.

Old essay on Hokkaido’s economic dependency on the mainland here. Here endeth the first Fun Facts. Hope you enjoyed. Another one in the pipeline. Debito in Sapporo

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