Building world city Tokyo: Globalization and conflict over urban space

  • André Sorensen
Part of the Advances in Spatial Science book series (ADVSPATIAL)


Japanese policy makers have, since their contact with the colonial powers in the mid 19th century, been acutely aware of the pressures and challenges of national survival in a globalizing world. In this sense, the Japanese experience of modernity has been deeply intertwined with, and is in important ways inseparable from the ongoing processes of globalization during the last century and a half. While their main response was to foster the growth of Japanese industrial, military and diplomatic power, one consistent theme has been the development of the capital city Tokyo as emblem of Japan as a civilized nation, location of national institutions, and center of economic power. This project, however, has long been an arena of considerable conflict between city builders and the residents of central Tokyo. The most recent conflict over the control of urban space in Japan’s premier world city emerged in the last few years when major developers lobbied successfully for massive increases in allowable building volumes and heights in special regeneration areas, arguing that without further deregulation Tokyo would lose its competitive position in relation to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. This paper argues that in Japan an important feature of globalization and international competitive pressures has been their use by urban actors in disputes over the control of urban space, and examines this use of globalization debates in the competition between economic space and life space in Tokyo.


Central Government Urban Space Liberal Democratic Party World City Land Prex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bestor TC (1989) Neighborhood Tokyo. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Calder KE (1988) Crisis and compensation: public policy and political stability in Japan, 1949–1986. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  3. Cybriwsky R (1993) Tokyo. Cities 10(1):2–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cybriwsky R (1998) Tokyo: The changing profile of an urban giant. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  5. Deyo FC (ed) (1987) The political economy of the new asian industrialism. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  6. Douglass M (1988) The transnationalization of urbanization in Japan. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 12(3):425–454Google Scholar
  7. Douglass M (1993) The ‘New’ Tokyo story: Restructuring space and the struggle for place in a world city. In: Fujita K, Hill RC (eds) Japanese cities in the world economy. Temple University Press, Philadelphia, pp 83–119Google Scholar
  8. Eade J (1997) Living in the global city: Globalization as local process. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Friedmann J (1986) The world city hypothesis. Development and Change 17:69–84Google Scholar
  10. Friedmann J (1988) Life space and economic space: Contradictions in regional planning, in life space and economic space: Essays in third world planning. Transaction Books, New Brunswick, N.J, pp 93–108Google Scholar
  11. Friedmann J, Wolff G (1982) World city formation: An agenda for research and action. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 6(3):309–344Google Scholar
  12. Fujita K (1991) A world city and flexible specialization: Restructuring of the Tokyo metropolis. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 15(1):269–284Google Scholar
  13. Gao B (1997) Economic ideology and Japanese industrial policy: Developmentalism from 1931 to 1965. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. George TS (2001) Minamata: Pollution and the struggle for democracy. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  15. Goetz EG, Clarke SE (eds) (1993) The new localism: Comparative urban politics in a global era. Sage, Newbury ParkGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayakawa K, Hirayama Y (1991) The impact of the minkatsu policy on Japanese housing and land use. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 9:151–164Google Scholar
  17. Hebbert M (1994) Sen-biki amidst Desakota: Urban sprawl and urban planning in Japan. In: Shapira P, Masser I, Edgington DW (eds) Planning for cities and regions in Japan. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, pp 70–91Google Scholar
  18. Hebbert M, Nakai N (1988) Deregulation of Japanese planning. Town Planning Review 59(4):383–395Google Scholar
  19. Hill RC, Kim JW (2000) Global cities and developmental states: New York, Tokyo and Seoul. Urban Studies 37(12):2167–2195Google Scholar
  20. Honjo M (1984) Key issues of urban development and land management policies in Asian developing countries. In: Honjo M, Inoue T (eds) Urban development policies and land management: Japan and Asia. City of Nagoya, Nagoya, pp 15–35Google Scholar
  21. Huddle N, Reich M, Stiskin N (1975) Island of dreams. Autumn Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Inamoto Y (1998) The problem of land use and land prices. In: Banno J (ed) The political economy of Japanese society, vol. 2, Internationalization and domestic issues. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 229–264Google Scholar
  23. Ishizuka H, Ishida Y (1988) Tokyo, the metropolis of Japan and its urban development. In: Ishizuka H, Ishida Y (eds) Tokyo: Urban growth and planning 1868–1988. Center for Urban Studies 3–35, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  24. Jain PC (1991) Green politics and citizens power in Japan. The Zushi Movement. Asian Survey 31(5):559–575Google Scholar
  25. Johnson C (1982) MITI and the Japanese miracle, the growth of industrial policy, 1925–1975. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  26. Knox P, Taylor PJ (eds) (1995) World cities in a world system. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Kodama T (1990) The new aspects of housing problems in Tokyo. Osaka City University Economic Review 25(1):1–12Google Scholar
  28. Machimura T (1992) The urban restructuring process in Tokyo in the 1980s: Transforming Tokyo into a world city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 16:114–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Machimura T (1998) Symbolic use of globalization in urban politics in Tokyo. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 22(2):183–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McKean M (1981) Environmental protest and citizen politics in Japan. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  31. Miyao T (1987) Japan’s urban policy. Japanese Economic Studies 15(4):52–66Google Scholar
  32. Miyao T (1991) Japan’s urban economy and land policy. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (513 January):130–138Google Scholar
  33. Morimura M (1994) Change in the Japanese urban planning priorities and the response of urban planners 1960–90. In: University of Tokyo Dept. of Urban Engineering (ed) Contemporary studies in urban environmental management in Japan. Kajima Institute Publishing 8–24, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  34. Muramatsu M, Krauss E (1987) The conservative policy line and the development of patterned pluralism. In: Yamamura K, Yasukichi Y (eds) The political economy of Japan, vol. I. The domestic transformation. Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp 516–554Google Scholar
  35. Nakai N (1988) Urbanization promotion and control in metropolitan Japan. Planning Perspectives 3:197–216Google Scholar
  36. Noguchi Y, Poterba JM (eds) (1994) Housing markets in the United States and Japan. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Oizumi E (1994) Property finance in Japan: expansion and collapse of the bubble economy. Environment and Planning A 26(2):199–213Google Scholar
  38. Onishi T (1994) A capacity approach for sustainable urban development: An empirical study. Regional Studies 28(1):39–51MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  39. Otake H (1993) The rise and retreat of a neoliberal reform: Controversies over land use policy. In: Allinson G, Sone Y (eds) Political dynamics in contemporary Japan. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 242–263Google Scholar
  40. Pacione M (2001) Urban geography: A global perspective. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Rimmer P (1986) Japan’s world cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya or Tokaido Megalopolis. Development and Change 17:121–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Saito A (2003) World city formation in capitalist developmental state: Tokyo and the waterfront sub-centre project. Urban Studies 40(2):283–308Google Scholar
  43. Samuels RJ (1983) The politics of regional policy in Japan: Localities incorporated? Princeton University Press, Princeton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  44. Sassen S (1991) The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  45. Sorensen A (1999) Land readjustment, urban planning and urban sprawl in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Urban Studies 36(13):2333–2360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sorensen A (2001a) Building suburbs in Japan: Continuous unplanned change on the urban fringe. Town Planning Review 72(3):247–273MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  47. Sorensen A (2001b) Subcentres and satellite cities: Tokyo’s 20th century experience of planned polycentrism. International Journal of Planning Studies 6(1):9–32Google Scholar
  48. Sorensen A (2002) The making of urban Japan: Cities and planning from edo to the 21st century. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  49. Tachibanaki T (1992) Higher land prices as a cause of increasing inequality: Changes in wealth distribution and socio-economic effects. In: Haley JO, Yamamura K (eds) Land issues in Japan: A policy failure? Society for Japanese Studies, Seattle, pp 175–194Google Scholar
  50. Ui J (ed) (1992) Industrial pollution in Japan. United Nations University Press, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  51. Upham FK (1987) Law and social change in postwar Japan. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  52. Watanabe Y (1992) The new phase of Japan’s land, housing, and pollution problems. Japanese Economic Studies 20(4):30–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Sorensen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Urban and Community Studies, Department of Social ScienceUniversity of TorontoScarborough
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Programme in PlanningUniversity of TorontoScarborough

Personalised recommendations