The number of cities, towns and villages fell below 2,000 Monday, compared with more than 3,200 in 1999, prior to the central government’s push for municipal consolidation to streamline local administration, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

Five new cities were created Monday in the latest round of mergers, including Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, with a population of 132,000. The number of municipalities now stands at 1,998, the ministry said.

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