The dynamics of urban degrowth in Japanese metropolitan areas: what are the outcomes of urban recentralisation strategies?
Sophie Buhnik, Associate researcher at the Fondation France-Japon de l’EHESS
Published in Town Planning Review, Volume 88, Issue 1, 2017 (Liverpool University Press Online)
Japanese authorities have supported compact city-oriented policies since the late 1990s to counter the effects of population decline and lingering economic stagnation. The concentration of renewal projects in well-connected neighbourhoods is meant to sustain the mobilities of an ageing society. Such policies actually have the effect of promoting a selective redevelopment of Japan’s metropolises, especially focused on maintaining the competitiveness of Tokyo’s world city status. This ‘Tokyo problem’ is destabilising the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe city-region (Keihanshin), whose restructurings can be read in the changing mobilities of its inhabitants. Mapping degrowth within the Keihanshin provides insights into the complex interactions between advanced demographic transition and urban dynamics in a region renowned for its mass transit system. Based upon micro-census data, this paper questions the ways in which the urban recentralisation paradigm contributes to the decline of formerly expanding suburbs and to more differentiated levels of access to urban resources.