|Emerging World Cities in Pacific Asia (UNU, 1996, 528 pages)|
|Part 2. Changing Asia-Pacific world cities|
|The Japanese urban system and the growing centrality of Tokyo in the global economy|
Whereas the Japanese economy has often been under scrutiny in various ways, with both theoretical and practical concerns, its direct consequences, i.e. the Japanese regional and urban system, have been surprisingly little analysed in a comprehensive manner (Glickman 1979; Nakamura and White, 1988).
The regional and urban system of a country is both the condition and the result of its techno-economic development. The rapid techno-economic expansion during the post-war period (1955-1970) in Japan drastically transformed the previous regional and urban system into a more complex and dynamic one. Several research reports on that period estimate that more than 30 million people moved, one way or another, during that transition. It is, however, of great importance to recognize that the more rapid and far-reaching changes in the techno-economic environment in the 1970s and 1980s, internationally as well as domestically, literally forced the recently established Japanese urban system to reorganize itself, and thus bring Japanese society into a new, uncharted phase of development (Sassen, 1991). The Japanese regional and urban system in the early 1990s had to face some fundamental changes and the problems associated with these changes.
One of the prevailing forces that triggered the change was undoubtedly the widespread adoption of varying and powerful forms of Information Technology (IT), not only in industrial and business activities but also in society at large, at the very critical moment when the international role of the Japanese economy was growing and changing (Castells, 1989; Kodama, 1991; Sassen, 1991).
This chapter will explore the fundamental nature of these changes, as manifested in the forms of spatial systems and organizations, in the following interlinked aspects: How has the Japanese regional and urban system evolved? What are the structural and functional characteristics of this system? What are the critical problems as epitomized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Area? And what are the prospects for the future and the policy implications from the viewpoint of regional and urban planning?