Historically Kyoto was the largest city in Japan, later surpassed by Osaka and Edo (Tokyo) towards the end of the 16th century.
In the prewar years, Kyoto traded places with Kobe and Nagoya ranking as the 4th and 5th largest city. In 1947, it went back to being 3rd, but its population has gradually declined ever since. By 1960 it had fallen to 5th again, and by 1990 it had fallen to 7th. If current trends continue it could fall to 9th after Fukuoka and Kawasaki. Its population—which includes a sizable foreign community comprising mainly Koreans (many brought there forcibly during World War II), Chinese, and Americans—has remained relatively stable for a number of years. Most of the city’s residents live in the central districts, but increasingly people are moving to outlying and suburban areas.
A major item remaining on the municipal agenda has been how to assimilate the thousands of burakumin, the historical outcaste group, who live in segregated communities in the city. This has been a continuing social problem largely in the older urban areas of western Japan, particularly Kyōto, Ōsaka, and Kōbe. Despite the fact that the last discriminatory legal bars were removed in 1969, social and occupational progress has lagged.