"Tokyo-as-World-City: Reassessing the
Role of Capital and the State in Urban Restructuring"
Professor, School of Geography, Faculty of Environment, University
There are more than 150 buildings of over 100 meters high in Tokyo,
in spite of depression in recent years. I will consider the reason
of this phenomenon, as well as transformation of urban structure of
Tokyo from the global viewpoint.
The existing works show that the state led by bureaucrats has served
the most important role for urban development and restructuring in
Tokyo. However, actual roles of the state and market in restructuring
of Tokyo, are similar to those of New York and other global cities,
where private companies carries major roles, rather than the state
or third-sector companies. Input capital leads the growth of cities,
while the state steers the restructuring, by improving infrastructures,
establishing regulations, etc. At the same time, it should be noted
that the capital of construction businesses were used in peculiar manners
for urban development in Japan.
Another characteristic to be noted was that the state provided week leadership
in urban planning, though it served central roles in formulating industry promotion
Tokyo was reorganized through geographical spaces classified into three levels.
The first level is the region; Tokyo is located on the Kanto Plain, encircled
by Tokyo Bay. The second level is district with multiple functions. The third
level includes city blocks and lots. I will focus on the second level in this
lecture, and analyze development body and measures from the viewpoint of district.
The transformation can be divided into three phases: from the early 1960's to
the early 1980's, from the early 1980's to the mid-1990's, and from the mid-1990's
The representative case of the first period includes Higashi-Shirahige and Nishi-Shirahige
development districts. The state and metropolitan government developed these
areas, drove large factories out from Tokyo by law, and made replaced by housing
complex. In the second phase (from the early 1980's to the mid-1990's), Mr. Nakasone,
the prime minister at that time, eased restrictions on construction and development.
This lead to the promotion of projects by third-sector companies, such as Okawabata
River City 21, Ebisu Garden Place, etc. Furthermore, not only residences, but
also surrounding environments such as schools were improved and developed. In
the third phase (in the mid-1990's to today), private companies have played central
roles in urban reorganization. Behind the trend was the relaxation of restrictions
around 2000, especially, Toshi Saisei Tokubetsu Sochi Ho (law on special measures
for urban renaissance) established in 2002. Typical examples include Roppongi
Hills and Shiodome built on former public facilities such as freight station,
etc. The development body emphasized that the plan was for both residences and
commercial facilities, though the number of houses were few, and rents were high.
As described above, urban development of Tokyo after the war shows that the
roles of state and capital, were changed during last thirty years of the 20th
century. Now I will summarize the relationship between the state and capital
during the period; in the 1970's, the government proceeded developments in order
to satisfy social needs which the government itself designed. In the 1980's,
the state and companies built partnership in development projects. Since the
mid-1990's, private companies have being proceeded urban development using lands
as assets. Skyscrapers were constructed in this context in Tokyo. The mitigation
of regulation, especially of floor area ratio accelerated the construction. This
trend proves the lack of area planning such as height restriction which should
be established by local administration, and the fragile urban planning system,
in contrast with intensive promotion of industries. From the global point of
view, recent situation of Tokyo as described above (urban development led by
private companies, resulting to skyscrapers) is unique in respect of the source
of capital. We will surely see the end of this trend, though we don't know when
Urban Developments in Tokyo since the 1960's]