I can't figure out when referring to 部, 課 or 局 if we speak of an "organization of people" or "the place where they perform their job" ?

I have the same problem regarding the word 部局 even when I've checked the definition:

ぶ-きょく [1] 【部局】

I would like to understand the concrete meaning of those (somehow) abstract words and what they refer to.

1 Answer 1


部局 is, as the definition says, a collective noun referring to divisions in an organization, so corresponds to plural divisions, departments.

As for 部, 課, 局, they are usually divisions/subdivisions hierarchically organized, depending on the organization.

For example, Metropolitan Police Department has several 部, under which there are several 課. On the other hand, Ministry of Finance has several 局 and 課 below them. Both 部 and 局 seem to be translated as bureau.

I think in most traditional Japanese companies there are 部 and 課, but perhaps not 局. But again, this just depends.

  • Thank you for the answer ! But (because my english is horrible ) does division can mean "the place where the inner suborganization works" or only that "suborganization"
    – Z Ea
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 7:06
  • @ZEa I guess so, but department may be more common. Anyway, sales dept would be 営業部, public relations dept 広報部 and so on. Note that generic company structures may be different between Japan and abroad, because of which translating dept as 部 may not look always natural.
    – sundowner
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 9:34
  • 1
    部,課,局 mean suborganizations themselves if that's what you're wondering.
    – sundowner
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 10:00

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