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close this bookEmerging World Cities in Pacific Asia (UNU, 1996, 528 pages)
close this folderPart 3. Borderless cities
close this folderThe evolving urban system in North-East Asia
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentYellow Sea Rim and Japan Sea Rim areas
View the documentThe transnationalization of urban systems: The BESETO ecumenopolis
View the documentIdeal and reality: Needs for further research
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The transnationalization of urban systems: The BESETO ecumenopolis

One of the most frustrating problems in a comparative study of urban systems is the definition of urban area. Therefore, for this chapter, the extended urban area from Beijing via Seoul to Tokyo (BESETO) includes only cities of over 200,000 inhabitants, which will minimize definitional errors because urban areas above this size are undeniably urban in character.

In the inverted S-shaped corridor from Beijing to Tokyo via Pyong yang and Seoul there are about 98 million urban inhabitants, and 112 cities with a population of over 200,000 are almost contiguous along a 1,500 km strip of densely populated land (table 14.7 and fig. 14.2), becoming a so-called "ecumenopolis", to use Greek urban ologist Doxiadis's term, or a borderless urban corridor (Whebell, 1969). An ecumenopolis is defined as a unified settlement system spanning the entire habitable area on a global or continental scale (Papaioannou, 1970). An urban corridor from the Tokaido megalopolis to Fukuoka in Japan is extending across the Korea Strait, via stepping stones of islands such as Tsushima and Iki, to Korea's southeastern region centred on Pusan, which covers the most industrialized part including Pohang, Ulsan, and Masan. The intensity of commodity and tourist flows is already very high and it is likely to become another Singapore-Johore Bahru in the Malay Peninsula or Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou in the Zhujiang Delta of China. This borderless urban corridor further extends from Pusan to Taegu and Seoul in South Korea and to Pyongyang and Shinuiju in North Korea. It then continues to China's Bohai rim cities. This region can be traversed in only one and a half hours by air and would be within 10 hours' commuting distance if a high-speed train is introduced and the Korea Strait between the Korean peninsula and the Japanese archipelago is connected by an under-sea tunnel. The region covers the most developed parts of the respective countries, with bundled lines of railroads and highways. Also, the region is connected by four distinctive megalopolises in each country.

Table 14.7 Urban population and number of cities in the Beijing-Pyongyang-Seoul-Tokyo corridor


Population ('000)

No. of cities over 200,000

Bohai rim corridor, China

31,556

36

Shinuiju-Kaesong corridor, North Korea

4,997

9

Seoul-Pusan corridor, South Korea

22,642

15

Fukuoka-Tokyo corridor, Japan

39,269

52

Total

98,464

112

Sources: China Urban Statistical Yearbook, 1988; Eberstadt and Banister (1991); Korea Manicipal Yearbook, 1990; Japan Municipal Yearbook, 1989, 1990.

China

Thanks largely to the city of Beijing being the imperial capital since the Ming Dynasty, China's north-east region enjoyed the status of the largest city in the empire for a period of almost 600 years from the late thirteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century. The opening of Tianjin as a treaty port in 1861 and the development of Dalian and Qingdao as leased port cities with foreign capital and technology in the early years of the twentieth century greatly reinforced the region's traditional urban hierarchy based on a vertical structure of administrative cities. The opening of smaller port cities in the late nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century, such as Dandong and Yantai on the Yellow Sea, was mainly for the export of Chinese goods. These cities were developed with few linkages with their rural hinterland, further accentuating urban growth in the region.


Fig. 14.2 The BESETO ecumenopolis

As dozens of mining and industrial cities in the province of Liaoning, such as Fushun, Anshan, Benxi, and Shenyang, were developed under the Japanese occupation in the 1930s, Liaoning province has been the most urbanized province in China. After the founding of the People's Republic, raw material and fossil fuel-oriented industrial centres such as Tangshan, Zibo, Xingtai, and Handan grew rapidly. In the 1960s, with the economic development policy of regional self-sufficiency, provincial capitals such as Shijiazuang and Jinan became diversified manufacturing centres with a complex industrial mix. Since the economic reforms initiated in the late 1970s, China has experienced an unprecedented rate of labour transfer from agriculture to non-agriculture as well as the most rapid rate of urbanization in modern Chinese history.

China's Bohai rim, situated in a most favourable coastal region facing the Korean peninsula, and endowed with rich resources of energy, minerals, and labour, has witnessed a much higher degree of urbanization than the nation has as a whole. Of the five provinces in China with more than 40 per cent of their population engaged in nonagricultural activities in 1988, three were located in the region: Beijing, Tianjin, and Liaoning (Chang, 1991). While Beijing and Tianjin are independent municipalities, Liaoning province has the highest percentage of urban population among all provinces. The provinces of Hebei and Shandong are also characterized by a much higher than average rate of urbanization. The Bohai Major Economic Zone, with a population of 200 million and more than 100 large and small cities, forms a C-shaped circular zone often reputed to be "the golden necklace of the Bohai Sea." It has been described as the "windows and forward positions of North China towards the outside world" (Cheng, 1991:35). It has 32 cities of over 200,000 inhabitants and its total urban population approached 32 million in 1988, as shown in figure 14.3.


Fig. 14.3 Population of cities over 200,000 in the Bohai rim corridor, China, 1988 (Source. China Urban Statistical Yearbook, 1988)

Cities

Population (1,000)

Beijing

5,487

Tianjin

4,320

Shijiazhuang

987

Tangshan

778

Qinhuangdao

283

Handan

467

Xingtai

511

Baoding

239

Zhangjiakou

980

Chengde

333

Cangzhou

219

Shenyang

3,412

Dalian

1,619

Anshan

1,148

Fushun

1,151

Benxi

726

Dandong

491

Jinzhou

641

Yingkou

392

Fuxin

608

Liaoyang

461

Panjin

308

Tieling

229

Chaoyang

202

Wafangdian

237

Haicheng

201

Jinxi

234

Jinan

1,257

Qingdao

1,191

Zibo

801

Zaozhuang

297

Dongying

217

Yantai

369

Weifang

332

Jining

229

Tai'an

219

Total

219

Japan

Beyond the pre-eminence of Tokyo as a mega-city, it is estimated that one-third of Japan's wealth is generated in the Tokyo metropolitan area. There are three major, contiguous metropolitan areas with heavy concentrations of population and industry known collectively as the Tokaido megalopolis: the National Capital region based on Tokyo, the Chubu region based on Nagoya, and the Kinki region based on Osaka. A further concentration of population and employment has been taking place in specially designated cities such as Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, and Fukuoka and their metropolitan areas, so that there will eventually be a great urban corridor from Tokyo to Fukuoka. This has been reinforced by the construction of the Shinkansen (bullet train) railway system and other trunk transportation networks along the corridor. The construction of the Shinkansen railway system linking Tokyo and Osaka in 1964 and of the national motorway system has probably done more to consolidate Tokaido than any other public investment. The extension of the Shinkansen to Fukuoka in 1975 merely extended the existing intensely developed urban crescent. Of 11 Japanese cities over 1 million, 10 are now located in the region stretching from Tokyo to Fukuoka along the Shinkansen (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, and Fukuoka As shown in figure 14.4, there are also medium-sized cities, and the total urban population of the region as a whole was about 39 million in 1990.

During the past 40 years, there have been a series of plans and other measures both to prevent the further concentration of population and employment and to restructure the growth of those metropolitan areas. The Japanese government announced its Fourth Comprehensive National Development Plan in 1987. The basic thrust of the plan was to create a multi-polar nation in which various poles featuring characteristic functions were to be developed. Japan is becoming a highly motorized and sophisticated high-tech economy. Its economy is internationalized and is experiencing relative decline in its manufacturing sectors. There are many indications that these trends may lead to another upsurge of metropolitan growth in Tokaido and in the urban corridor along the Shinkansen.

South Korea

South Korea is already a highly urbanized country: four out of five Koreans lived in urban areas in 1988. South Korea started to experience rapid economic growth and urbanization during the period beginning in 1961. The resultant benefits, however, are largely concentrated in Seoul. Consequently, people from all over the country headed for Seoul and a few large cities in the Seoul-Pusan corridor. Five out of the six largest cities with populations over 1 million(Seoul, Inchon, Taejon, Taegu, and Pusan) are located in this corridor, although Seoul and its metropolitan area dominate urbanization in Korea. More than 42 per cent of the nation's population and 48 per cent of the nation's manufacturing employment are concentrated in the Seoul metropolitan area.


Fig. 14.4 Population of cities over 200,000 in the Tokyo-Fukuoka corridor, Japan, 1990 (Source: Japan Municipal Yearbook, 1989 and 1990)

Cities

Population (1,000)

Kumamoto

566

Oita

402

Kurume

225

Kitakyusyu

1,031

Fukuoka

1,186

Sasebo

248

Nagasaki

446

Simonoseki

259

Hirosima

1,058

Kure

220

Hukuyama

365

Kurasiki

417

Okayama

584

Kokogawa

236

Himezi

451

Akasi

265

Kobe

1,439

Amagasaki

495

Wakayama

450

Sakai

807

Osaka

2,536

Nara

345

Kyoto

1,402

Otu

251

Itinomiya

261

Nagoya

2,111

Simizu

242

Toyota

321

Toyohasi

331

Okazaki

299

Numazu

212

Hamamatu

528

Maebasi

284

Takasaki

236

Hatiozi

446

Sizuoka

471

Hiratuka

241

Yokosuka

436

Yokohama

3,176

Kawasaki

1,140

Kawagoe

296

Omiya

394

Urawa

407

Tokyo

8,111

Itikawa

422

Tiba

816

Hunabasi

526

Utunomiya

422

PNGu

407

Matayama

442

Takamatu

329

Tokusima

260

Total

39,269

Table 14.8 Share of population in the Seoul-Pusan urban corridor, 1960-1988 ('000 persons)


1960

1970

1980

1988

National total (A)

24,989

31,435

37,449

42,800

Urban population (B)

9,526

15,810

26,891

34,558

Urbanization rate (%)

38.1

50.3

71.8

80.7

Seoul-Pusan population (C)

5,950

11,297

19,493

26,027

(C)/(A)

23.8

35.9

52.1

60.8

(C)/(B)

62.5

71.5

72.5

75.3

Source: Korea Municipal Yearbook, 1990.

As shown in table 14.8, about 61 per cent of the nation's population or 75 per cent of the urban population lived in the Seoul-Pusan megalopolis in 1988 (only 24 per cent of Koreans lived in this corridor in 1960). There is a consistent trend of concentration of population and employment in this urban corridor. There are 15 cities with over 200,000 inhabitants and also more than 30 smaller cities located in the inland urban corridor of 250 miles, creating a contiguous urban area of 26 million, as shown in figure 14.5.

Since the early 1970s the vulnerable national security situation, the high primacy rate of Seoul, increased regional disparities between the Seoul-Pusan urban corridor and other regions, especially the southwestern region, and the worsening of rural areas in terms of income and the heavy outflow of the productive younger population have led the government to implement various measures to curb population concentration in the Seoul metropolitan area. An overall evaluation of the effectiveness of those measures is known not to be very encouraging. Contrarily, the government encouraged further growth of the Seoul-Pusan megalopolis by the construction of the Seoul-Pusan expressway in the late 1970s and development of new industrial estates along the expressway. The government is now considering building a Korean Shinkansen from Seoul to Pusan by the end of this century. This will reinforce the ongoing trend of growth of the Seoul-Pusan megalopolis.


Fig. 14.5 Population of cities over 200,000 in the Kaesong-Shinuiju corridor, North Korea, and the Seoul-Pusan corridor, South Korea, 1988 (Sources: North Korea - Eberstadt and Banister, 1991; South Korea - Korea Municipal Yearbook 1990)

Kaesong - Shinuju Corridor

Cities

Population (1,000)

Pyongyang

2,355

Nampo

715

Kaesong

331

Sonchon

356

Shinuju

289

Pyongsong

239

Sariwon

221

Tukcheon

217

Songlim

274

Total

4,997

Seoul - Pusan Corridor

Cities

Population (1,000)

Seoul

10,287

Pusan

3,769

Taegu

2,239

Inchon

1,644

Taejon

1,021

Suwon

543

Sungnam

515

Anyang

433

Uijonbu

200

Kwangmyong

253

Chongju

417

Chonan

201

Kumi

200

Pohang

302

Ulsan

618

Total

22,642

North Korea

North Korea is one of the least known countries with respect to population dynamics in general and especially the urban system itself. Available fragmentary information indicates that, in general, cities are not excessively large in their urban jurisdiction, and that urban population is defined according to conservative criteria (Eberstadt and Banister, 1991). However, North Korea does have a relatively high rate of urbanization. In addition to its initial condition of strong manufacturing industries and a high proportion of non-agricultural population, North Korea has continued to give priority to industrial development. As a consequence, the level of urbanization increased from 40 per cent in 1960 to about 64 per cent in 1985. There is only one city over 1 million and eight small and medium-sized cities are located in the corridor from Kaesong to Shinuiju. The urban corridor is the most developed and densely populated area in North Korea, as shown in figure 14.5.

In addition to the existing Asia-Pacific urban system, which has been briefly outlined, the emergence of extended metropolitan regions crossing national boundaries in North-East Asia, the globalization of economic activity, and the transnationalization of capital and labour markets will make a great impact on the urban system in the region. China's open policy, Korea's Nordpolitik, Japan's Japan Sea Movement, and Russia's Eastward Movement will be important forces shaping the urban future in the twenty-first century. These evolving forces necessarily lead to the need for the spatial and structural adjustment of mega-cities in North-East Asia because mega-cities have never in the past not acted as locomotives for change to shape a new order.