Building world city Tokyo:Globalization and con .ict over urban space

Sorensen, André
September 2003
Annals of Regional Science;Sep2003, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p519
Academic Journal
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.


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