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close this bookEmerging World Cities in Pacific Asia (UNU, 1996, 528 pages)
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close this folderThe evolving urban system in North-East Asia
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View the documentThe transnationalization of urban systems: The BESETO ecumenopolis
View the documentIdeal and reality: Needs for further research
View the documentReferences

(introductory text...)

Sang-Chuel Choe

Introduction

North-East Asia, or the North-Western Pacific Rim, covers the five countries of South and North Korea, China, Japan, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly the USSR). It would be inappropriate to include China and the CIS, which are of continental scale, in the same spatial dimension with Japan and Korea because China has almost ten times the population of Japan and is a hundred times the size of South Korea in area. Therefore, North-East Asia is operationally defined to include South and North Korea, Japan, parts of China (including the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang and the cities of Beijing and Tianjin), and parts of the Far-East Economic Zone and East Siberia Economic Zone in the CIS. Approximately 400 million people (or 8 per cent of the world population) are concentrated in the region thus delineated and more than one-fifth of the world's gross national product is generated here (table 14.1).

The détente between the East and the West that started in the 1980s, especially reconciliation between the capitalist and socialist countries, foretells the coming of the Pacific era. Ideological confrontation is now regarded as a remnant of the Cold War. Moreover, changes in the world economic order have been pressuring the North-East Asian countries to work out a new economic regionalism. The countries in North-East Asia have many complementarities and could provide each other with necessary resources and share experiences by being at different stages of economic development. The Russian Far East and China's three north-eastern provinces have abundant natural resources. The Siberian areas, in particular, are endowed with potentially great untapped resources, which Japan and South Korea need in order to gain a competitive edge over other industrialized countries.

Table 14.1 Country profile of North-East Asia, 1989


Russia, Far East

Chinaa

South Korea

North Korea

Japan

Total

Area ('000 km2)

6,216

958

100

122

378

7,774

Population ('000)

7,940

187,245

42,380

22,520

123,120

383,205

GNP (US: billion)

28.8

106.4

220.1

20.0

2,833.7

3,209

Per capita GNP (US$)

3,627

568

5,193

888

23,016


Sources: Russia, Far East - John Sallnow, "The Soviet Far East," Soviet Geography 30, 1989; China -China Statistical Yearbook, 1991; World Bank, World Development Report 1991.

a. Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.

Moreover, the countries in North-East Asia share many historical legacies and cultural commonalities beyond being simply neighbouring states. These countries have followed divergent paths for more than four decades since World War II. China, the CIS, and North Korea have followed an orthodox socialist path of development and its consequent urbanization pattern, whereas Japan and South Korea have kept to a typical capitalist track of economic and urban growth. After half a century of divergent development, new dimensions are emerging in North-East Asia. The idea of a North-East Asian Economic Community patterned after the European Economic Community (EEC) has been widely discussed in political and academic circles, and is nowadays becoming more than wishful thinking. As the world has begun withdrawing from ideological confrontation and is heading for an era of multinational economic cooperation, many concepts such as a North-East Asian Economic Zone, a Yellow Sea Economic Zone, an Organization for Pacific Trade, Aid, and Development, and a Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference have been suggested.

Although the total volume of foreign trade among the countries in North-East Asia was only US$62.4 billion in 1990 (table 14.2), the region is emerging as one of three economic blocs in the world next to the European Union and the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). The rate of increase in trade surpasses that of other economic blocs in the world. In addition to the existing trade relationship between Japan and South Korea, which accounts for 98 per cent of the regional total, one of the significant developments is that China became the third-largest trading partner with South Korea in 1991. As shown in table 14.3, between 1985 and 1989 trade volume (exports and imports) increased more than three times between South Korea and China, and more than five times between South Korea and the former USSR. In order to meet increasing trade, the ports of Pusan and Inchon in South Korea recently opened direct cargo routes with Shanghai, Tianjin, and Dalian in China. Moreover, direct passenger services run twice a week between Weihei and Inchon. The coastal trade that once thrived across the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan is expected to be revived again. For example, as of September 1990, 26 South Korean joint ventures were operating in China. Although the total amount of South Korea's direct foreign investment in China is meagre at US$25 million compared with Japan's US$2,036 million (Kim, 1991a; Sekiguchi, 1991), it is likely to increase very rapidly, in particular in labour-intensive export manufacturing, as rising wage and other production costs in South Korea provide great incentives to move South Korean capital to locations with cheaper labour costs in order to maintain a competitive edge in international trade.

Table 14.2 Foreign trade among North-East Asian countries, 1990 (US$100 million)


Imports

Exports

South Korea

Japan

Russia

China

Total

South Korea

-

117.1

5.2

15.8

138.1

Japan

174.6

-

25.6

61.3

261.5

Russia

3.7

33.5

-

21.4

58.6

China

22.6

120.5

22.4

-

165.5

Total

200.9

271.1

53.2

98.5

623.7

Source: Korea Trade Promotion Corporation Newsletter, 1990.

Table 14.3 Trend of South Korean trade (exports and imports) with China and the USSR, 1985-1989 (US$ million)


1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

China

1,161

1,336

1,679

3,087

3,142

USSR

102

133

200

290

600

Sources: South Korean Ministry of Trade and Industry and Korea Trade Promotion Corporation.

In 1989, the volume of trade among the North-East Asian countries accounted for 14 per cent of total foreign trade in the world. With the relaxation of political tensions and improved multilateral relations, exchanges of science, technology, and culture will surely follow. Diplomatic relations between Soviet Russia and South Korea have been normalized. Since early 1991 China and South Korea have opened trade offices with the function of issuing visas. Full diplomatic ties were established in August 1992. The prime ministers of South and North Korea at their fifth-round meeting on 13 December 1991 in Seoul signed an agreement on reconciliation, non-aggression, exchange, and cooperation between the two Koreas.

Yellow Sea Rim and Japan Sea Rim areas

North-East Asia can be divided into two distinctive subregions: the Yellow Sea Rim and the Japan Sea (East Sea) Rim regions, as shown in figure 14.1. Compared with the Japan Sea Rim area, where urban and industrial development is lagging, the Yellow Sea Rim is relatively well endowed with quality labour resources and industrial infrastructure. In terms of industrial structure, the Yellow Sea Rim reveals a mixture of resource-oriented and market-oriented activities, whereas the Japan Sea coastal areas are heavily resource oriented. Major industrial bases in China and Korea are also located along the Yellow Sea Rim, adding to the importance of this region in the national economies of both countries (Kim, 1991b).

In contrast, there are few urban centres that act as trading and managerial hubs in the Japan Sea Rim area, although the countries around the Japan Sea have recently been preparing ambitious plans, including the development of urban centres with infrastructural facilities (Vladivostok in Russia, Hunchun in China, Niigata and other medium-sized cities in Japan, the Chongjin-Najin-Seonbong conurbation in North Korea, and Pohang in South Korea). The Japan Sea region has been treated by Japan as its backyard compared with the Tokaido megalopolis and has never been highlighted in the mainstream of Japanese history. Likewise, Korea's east coast has been ridiculed as "the land of potatoes and rocks," which symbolizes severe poverty and a lack of arable land. North Korea's east coast was historically a place of political exile and is cut off by rugged mountains from the heart of the country.


Fig. 14.1 The Yellow Sea Rim and the East Sea Rim

China's north-eastern region wants to have a gateway to the Japan Sea through the Tumen River and the development of Hunchun as an entrepôt. Infrastructure development in the Russian Far East, north-east China, the east coast of the Korean peninsula, and the west coast of the Japanese archipelago lags far behind that in the Yellow Sea Rim area and thus poses a serious obstacle to integrated rimland development. However, the regions are preparing to take advantage of a newly evolving dynamics of North-East Asia.

Informal exchanges between South Korea and China have been gaining momentum since the Asian games in 1990. It was reported that about 30,000 South Korean tourists visited China in 1990. Ferries for passengers and cars are already running between Pusan and Shimonoseki and between Yosu and Fukuoka to accommodate increasing demand for passenger traffic between South Korea and Japan across the Korea Strait. Cargo shipping routes between major ports in South Korea (Pusan, Pohang, Ulsan) and Japanese (Kitakyushu, Niigata, Muroran) and Soviet ports (Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Vostochny) are becoming some of the busiest in the world. With the growth of cargo and passenger traffic they will become even more congested.

The accord between South and North Korea has given momentum to the flow of information and commodities. It was reported that the Korean government was going to raise the issue of reopening the disconnected railroad line between Seoul and Pyongyang at the 48th meeting of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in 1992 in Beijing. Although the agenda would not be formally discussed until North Korea became a member of ESCAP, the reopening of the Seoul-Pyongyang railroad seems only a matter of time. If it goes well, it will certainly facilitate passenger and freight movement between five countries, including the two Koreas, China, Russia, and Mongolia. It will eventually become a land bridge for Japan to reach the Trans-Siberian and the Trans-China railroads. However, it has not yet been realized because of a strained relationship between the two Koreas concerning the issue of the non-proliferation treaty over the North Korean nuclear reactor.

Since the western end of the Lanzhou-Xinjiang railroad in China was connected to the Soviet railroad at Ala pass in 1990, another Euro-Asian continental bridge of 10,800 km (Trans-China railroad, TCR), in addition to the existing Trans-Siberian Railway of 13,000 km from Nakhodka in the east to Brest in the west, has been opened to traffic. In recent years, owing to the rapid economic development of the Asia-Pacific region, trade with Europe has quadrupled for Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The reopening of the Seoul-Pyongyang railroad line and the TCR will reinforce the existing spatial agglomeration along the corridor extending from Tokyo to Beijing through Pusan, Seoul, and Pyongyang in the Korean peninsula.

Table 14.4 Air passenger traffic from Seoul, 1980-1989 ('000 passengers)


1980

1982

1984

1986

1988

1989


Route

(A)





(B)

(B)/(A)

Seoul-Tokyo

807

661

808

690

937

1,433

1.8

Seoul-Osaka

409

371

388

441

507

699

1.7

Seoul-Fukuoka

135

133

164

160

209

235

1.7

Seoul-Nagoya

92

84

86

109

165

238

2.6


1,443

1,249

1,446

1,400

1,818

2,605

1.8

Seoul-Taipei

187

249

303

334

440

497

2.7

Seoul-Hong Kong

190

211

211

333

415

438

2.3

Seoul-Bangkok

48

87

124

76

97

134

2.8

Seoul-Manila

43

59

45

69

102

111

2.6

Seoul-Kuala Lumpur

1

11

20

25

20

21

21.0

Seoul-Singapore

12

21

36

69

70

81

6.8

Total

1,924

1,887

2,185

2,306

2,962

3,887

2.0

Source: Bureau of Aviation, Ministry of Transportation, Republic of Korea, 1990.

People in North-East Asia have found themselves living in a global age, in the sense that countries are increasingly interdependent and are diversifying their roles in a global society. The explosive growth in the volume of international trade and tourism and the broadcasts of television networks such as CNN of America and NHK of Japan in the late 1980s are accelerating the globalization of Asian countries, especially the countries in North-East Asia. An important indicator of this trend is the increase in air passenger traffic. As shown in table 14.4, the number of air passengers in the region originating from Seoul doubled between 1980 and 1989. The increasing trend is most visible between Seoul and the South-East Asian cities, and trip distance is becoming much greater than before.

Another indicator of the space-time collapse in the Asia-Pacific region is the flow of information. Because it is not easy either to measure the volume of information flows or to trace their pattern, and statistics are not readily available, the volume of international telephone calls is used as a proxy of information flows (Yoon and Lee, 1990). Table 14.5 shows how rapidly information flow is taking place between Seoul and other Asian mega-cities, although city-specific data are not available. There are many reasons to assume that mega-cities are information hubs in their respective countries. During the 1980s the volume of international telephone calls had increased 14 times between Seoul and Japan and 54 times between Seoul and Thailand. The heaviest flow was between Seoul and Japan, followed by Seoul-Hong Kong and Seoul-Taiwan. Table 14.6 lists the five most frequently called countries in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. It is a strong indication that there are invisible flows of ideas and information among the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Only the United States is an exception as the most frequently called country in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Japan is dominant as a centre of information flows as it is the most frequently called country for Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

Table 14.5 International telephone calls (in and out) between Seoul and other Asian countries, 1980-1989 ('000 calls)


1980

1982

1984

1986

1988

1989



(A)





(B)

(B)/(A)

Seoul-Japan

3,463

4,444

7,645

16,168

32,248

48,366

14.0

Seoul-Hong Kong

241

448

746

2,005

5,648

7,707

32.0

Seoul-Taiwan

115

183

302

794

2,018

2,893

25.2

Seoul-Philippines

27

44

70

140

325

633

23.4

Seoul-Singapore

64

153

367

537

1,568

2,292

35.8

Seoul-Thailand

14

27

43

117

417

761

54.4

Seoul-Indonesia

20

42

96

168

481

964

48.2

Seoul-Malaysia

-

50

94

214

438

632

-

Total

3,944

5,391

9,363

20,143

43,143

64,248

16.3

Source: Korea Telecommunication Corporation Yearbook, 1990.

International labour migration is tending to increase within Asia because of uneven economic growth and wage and unemployment differences. Labour shortages have appeared in Japan, Korea, and Malaysia. As structural changes in Asian economies and labour markets continue, cross-national labour migration in North-East Asia will surely be on the rise in the years to come, especially among the countries that have strong ethnic links and do not pose great language difficulties. Korean-Chinese mainly living in north and northeastern China are returning to their homeland as visitors and are quite visible in the menial labour market in South Korea. Although South Korea receives labourers from China and the Philippines, it also sends young female workers to Japan. The North-East Asian region is an important integral part of the whole Asia-Pacific region, and is becoming a dynamic region with great potential in the world economy.

Table 14.6 The countries most frequently called by the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, 1985 (%)


Countries most frequently called

Country

1

2

3

4

5

USA

Japan

13.2

11.4

8.6

5.1

1.6

25.7


Korea

Taiwan

HK

Sing

Indo


Korea

37.0

4.2

1.6

1.5


32.6


Japan

HK

Taiwan

Sing

-


Taiwan

33.2

33.1

4.4

1.8

1.8

24.0


Japan

HK

Sing

Phil

Korea


Hong Kong

17.6

12.3

9.6

5.2

3.8

8.9


China

Taiwan

Japan

Sing

Phil


Thailand

15.3

14.0

10.6

4.0

3.7

17.9


Japan

Sing

HK

Malay

Taiwan


Malaysia

16.8

11.6

9.6

7.1

4.9

7.2


Japan

HK

Thai

Taiwan

Indo


Indonesia

39.4

15.8

8.3

3.8

2.4

8.0


Sing

Japan

HK

Taiwan

Malay


Philippines

10.7

9.8

3.8

3.2


49.5


Japan

HK

Sing

Taiwan

-


Singapore

16.0

14.6

12.4

5.5

4.4

9.1


Indo

Japan

HK

Taiwan

Thai


Source: AT & T. The World Telephone, 1988.

Abbreviations: HK - Hong Kong; Sing - Singapore; Indo - Indonesia, Phil - Philippines; Thai Thailand; Malay - Malaysia.

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.

Ideal and reality: Needs for further research

The evolving urban system in North-East Asia has many important implications in both national and international urbanization policies. The emergence of extended borderless metropolitan regions implies the globalization of problems, solutions to which have to be collectively found. In other words, urban problems and their solutions cannot be contained within national boundaries. However, it cannot be denied that there is an ambivalent attitude towards the phenomenon of extended metropolitan regions itself and the future course of action to tackle it. There are many issues that we can raise at this time.

First, even in highly urbanized countries such as Japan and South Korea, urbanization has been accepted as an undesirable consequence of development. Governments have made every effort to slow down growth in the Tokaido and Seoul-Pusan megalopolises, although the rationales for a national urbanization policy are somewhat different. Japan's concern is the likelihood of earthquakes in the Tokaido area and the development of the side of the Japanese archipelago facing the Sea of Japan. South Korea has been dominated by national security concerns and the problems of the southwest region, which has been volatile in respect of national political integration since the uprising in Kwangju in 1980. China may not be an exception to the issue of uneven growth of urban areas. In the process of nation building from 1949, development priority was given to inland regions away from coastal cities where the colonial and imperialistic imprint persisted. It is a great challenge for China to reopen its coastal cities without losing the original thrust of inland development. These nations share a historical legacy of Confucianism. Anti-urbanism and ambivalent values towards the city have been prevalent, so enthusiasm about the emergent global urban system tends to be tame.

Secondly, many Chinese and Koreans still remember the design of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere under Japanese colonialism before World War II. Japanese initiatives to develop borderless megalopolises in North-East Asia would be viewed with great suspicion as attempts to revive the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The third issue is that there are reservations about the internationalization of the mega-city system, on the grounds that hyperurbanization of a handful of mega-cities will finally create an unbridgeable gap between population growth and the provision of urban services, produce new forms of inter-local conflict, intensify socio-spatial inequalities in a country, and reduce social spending in favour of direct foreign investment (Smith, 1989:7-8). A surge of foreign investment in North-East Asia is building its mega-cities and reshaping its urban and industrial systems. Cross-holdings of property between major economic powers are inevitable in this world of globalization. As Professor Meier and others (1990) have pointed out, the biggest threat to urban settlement in the Pacific Rim is a catastrophic land price increase strongly reminiscent of the Japanese land price bubble. If all the man-made bubbles in Japan collapse, this would be a gargantuan financial disaster that would shock the multitudinous mega-city institutions around the Pacific Rim.

Fourthly, the spatial division of production has occurred through shifting the location of capital, labour, production, markets, and management to take advantage of the best possible conditions for multinational firms. As a result, urban and regional restructuring is taking place throughout the world. This reorganization of industrial and spatial structures is most dramatic in East Asia. During the past two decades, East Asia as a whole has been experiencing the most rapid economic growth in the world (Fujita and Ishii, 1991:3-4). However, a new international division of labour would have already had a vital impact on urban and regional structures and is expected to bring about more drastic changes in future. Extended urban configurations across national boundaries can be seen as the manifestation of social, economic, and political structures in terms of the new international division of labour, capital, and technology, and will result in the deepening of capitalistic uneven regional growth and increased duality and dependency. One feature of the new Asian economic network has been the formation of a transnational hierarchy of cities. We need further enquiry into the consequences of the transnationalization of the North-East Asian economy for the urban and regional systems.

However, the processes of globalization and urbanization must be understood as being a basic condition for and a functional consequence of economic, social, and technological development. Indiscriminate efforts to avoid them may result in the stagnation of North-East Asia as a whole and the distortion of its mega-city system. The increase in the growth potential of high-density concentrated accumulation brings some promise of an improvement in human welfare as well as sustained economic prosperity in North-East Asia.

In spite of great diversities among countries in North-East Asia, there exist useful complementarities. China and the Russian Far East need capital, advanced technology, and industrial products from Japan and South Korea. In the Russian Far East, population is sparse in comparison with the vast land area, and lack of manpower has become the main problem of its economic development. South Korea's capital and North Korea's labourers are already very much on the move there. As Japan and South Korea are resource-poor countries, natural resources and raw materials in China, the Russian Far East, and North Korea are most attractive for them. The regional divergence of resource endowments and complementary relationships is still developing, and will be reinforced in the future. North-East Asia is an important integral part of the whole Asia-Pacific region, and is becoming one of the most dynamic regions with great potential in the world economy.

Finally, urban infrastructure, including "triple T" (seaport, airport, and teleport) and spatial linkages in North-East Asia, is lagging far behind present requirements. There must be concerted efforts to avoid overlapping investment. The first step is to assess needs and to exchange information among mega-cities where important business and decision-making take place. One of the most promising fields of research is the newly evolving urban system in North-East Asia. The search for an integrated North-East Asian Community is still a goal that is cautiously embraced by a handful of academicians and policy makers and also by the largest multinational organizations operating there. This endeavour is likely to continue throughout the 1990s and the years to follow. There is a great probability that the BESETO ecumenopolis will remain a loose idea rather than an integrated economic reality unless cataclysmic events in the future provide the impetus for its development.

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