Junichiro Okata and Akito Murayama
Tokyo, the largest mega-region in the world so far with 35 million inhabitants in 2007, has experienced a rapid growth in the twentieth century with vari- ous issues associated with urban form and urban environment. Some issues were solved and others remain to be solved. If Tokyo is evaluated as one of the most efficient, productive and sustainable mega-regions in the world, it is the result of rapid urban growth and development in the twentieth century. After that, Tokyo has been facing new challenges as it left the phase of rapid growth and entered the phase of no- or low-growth, depopulating and aging society. In this respect, Tokyo is a leading or an instructive mega-region in the world. At the same time, Tokyo must take part in the global effort to achieve sustainability. This chapter focuses on the history of Tokyo’s urban growth, the diversity of urban form issues in Tokyo, some previous successes in solving urban environmental problems and some new challenges facing efforts to enhance urban sustainability.
In this chapter, the term “Tokyo” refers to Tokyo region comprised of Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) jurisdiction and the surrounding three prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, covering 13,551 km2 and accommodating 35 million inhabitants.
2.2 History of Tokyo’s Urban Growth
2.3 Diversity of Urban Form Issues in Tokyo
As a result of rapid urban growth and a relatively weak planning system, Tokyo is a patchwork of various types of urban space with diverse urban form issues. Some of the major issues are as follows.
2.3.1 Several Kinds of Urban Sprawl
Most of Urban Areas in the mega-regions in Japan are divided into Urbanization Promotion Area (UPA) where development is promoted and Urbanization Control Area (UCA) where urban development is not permitted in principle. Some Urban Areas called Undivided Urban Areas (UUA) are not divided into UPA and UCA. There are several kinds of urban sprawls in Urban Area, somewhat different from urban sprawl in North America where it is generally considered as the expansivos of urban area with insufficient urban infrastructure such as streets, parks and utilities.
Firstly, in UPA, not only large-scale planned developments but also small-scale or ‘single lot’ developments are permitted as long as each building lot is attached to a street which width is 4 m or wider in prin- ciple, causing urban sprawl by incremental accumulation of small scale ‘mini-developments’ and ‘plot-by-plot’ developments.
Secondly, in UCA, certain developments such as housing for farmers’ sons, retail facilities for the locals or public facilities are permitted, contributing to urbanization. Thirdly, in UUA where land use regulation is generally loose, various kinds of developments including large-scale commercial developments were possible. Thus, urban sprawl can be observed both in UPA, UCA and UUA. Urbanization in UCA and UUA has been controlled mainly by Agricultural Land designation in Agricultural Area where agricultural land is protected to promote productive agriculture (Figs. 2-5 and 2-6).
As a response to continuing urban sprawl and downtown decline, City Planning Law was recently amended to permit large-scale commercial developments exclusively in commercial, neighborhood commercial and quasi-industrial zoning zones, that are to be designated by a local government with consent of its higher government which is responsible for regional location management of major commercial centers. This response might have been too late since many large-scale commercial developments have already occurred in urban fringe areas since the early 1990s.
2.3.2 Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)
2.3.3 Intensification of Urban Centers
2.3.4 Redevelopment of Brownfields
2.3.5 Conservation of Historic Areas
2.3.6 Improvement of Vernacular or Popular Settlements
2.3.7 Maintenance and Improvement of the Suburbs
As Tokyo entered the phase of no-or low-growth, depopulating and aging society, with people moving back to central Tokyo after the collapse of the bubble economy, maintenance and improvement of the suburbs has become a new issue. Many suburban housing estates, both multi-family and single family, were developed in the 1960s and the 1970s, the age of rapid growth. Baby-boomers who purchased housing in those estates are now retiring and most of their children have already left home. Decline of schools and shops, and growing demand for social services mean that it is questionable if these suburbs will be socially and economically sustainable in the future. Measures to maintain the suburbs might include provision of various community services to support the lives of the aged population, regeneration of multi-family housing estates to attract diverse population and local management of vacant properties (Fig. 2-16).
Parts of Tokyo suburbs not well served by public transit have automobile-oriented urban structure and landscape. Improvement of landscape in commercial strips along arterial roads, for example, might be an issue particularly from the aesthetic point of view (Fig. 2-17).
2.4 Previous Successes in Solving Urban Environmental Problems
2.4.1 Fighting Against Environmental Pollution in the 1970s
2.4.2 Reducing and Recycling Waste in the 1990s
2.4.3 “No Diesel Strategy” Campaign Since 1999
2.5 New Challenges to Enhance Urban Sustainability
2.5.1 Energy-Saving and a Shift to Renewable Energy
2.5.2 Tokyo After 10 Years Plan
Tokyo After 10 Years Plan, published in the end of 2006 by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, set a near future vision of Tokyo growing to a higher level in the fields of urban infrastructure, environment, security, culture, tourism and industry. The plan presented the following eight goals to be accomplished in the next 10 years. (Headquarters of the Governor of Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Government 2006)
1. Recover Beautiful Tokyo Embraced by Water and Green Corridors
2. Tokyo will be Reborn by the Three Ring Roads
3. Realize the City with Least Environmental Load in the World
4. Reinforce Reliance on Tokyo by Creating Disaster-Proof City
5. Create the World-Leading Urban Model for Hyper Aged Society
6. Establish the Presence of Tokyo by the City’s Attractiveness and Industry
7. Create a Society that Any High-Motivated People can Challenge
8. Provide a Dream for Children of the Next Generation through Sports
In order to implement the plan speedy and surely, interdepartmental “Joint Strategic Meeting for Environmental City Building” was established within TMG. Under the meeting, two headquarters were established, namely “Carbon Minus City Building Promotion Headquarters” and “Green City Building Promotion Headquarters”. The two headquarters launched their 10 years projects (Tokyo Metropolitan Government 2007).
Carbon Minus Tokyo 10 Years Project is an effort to realize a city with least environmental load in the world. It will establish a new urban model in the twenty-first century and spread it to Asia and rest of the world. The project consists of the following five parts: The development of Tokyo-Originated Energy Strategy Using World-Class Energy Saving Technologies, Realization of a City with the Most Renewable Energy Use, Realization of Sustainable Transportation Network, Development of New Environmental Technologies and Creation of Environmental Businesses and Carbon Minus Movement.
On the other hand, Green Tokyo 10 years project is an effort to recover beautiful Tokyo embraced by water and green corridors. It will promote the networking of existing greenery and the provision of new greenery. The project consists of the following five parts: Shaping Green Road Network, Creation of Greenery in the Gaps of Urban Space, Creating Green Center in Neighborhood, Conservation of Existing Greenery and Creation of High Quality Greenery and Green Movement that Involves Local Governments and Businesses.
The major planning issue of the twentieth century Tokyo was to expand and intensify the urban area in order to accommodate rapid growth. Until the 1960s urban expansion was controlled neither by a strict planning system nor by a greenbelt but by developments around railway stations. Though experiencing very rapid urban growth and with a relatively weak planning system, Tokyo had barely accommodated the flood of immigrant population and had provided not less than minimum level of living environment and social services. From the viewpoint of urban form, Tokyo is a patchwork of various types of urban space with diverse urban issues. As Japan entered the phase of no- or low-growth, depopulating and aging society, it is not possible or not necessary to change the current spatial structure of Tokyo so drastically. It is more realistic to improve or conserve existing urban spaces incrementally to enhance quality of life in a sustainable manner. As there is a diversity of urban issues, diverse and creative approaches are needed. The major problem of Tokyo’s planning is that so many areas have no clear future vision of urban space. Mixed use and vibrant looking vernacular urban places, often praised by European and American planners and urban designers, are merely the incidental results of market economy and loose land use/building regulations, and are actually vulnerable in many ways. In order to shape attractive urban space through the regeneration of existing urban space, it is important in each area to establish a future vision and to implement measures for realization. The high-density mixed-use “urban village” concept now becoming popular worldwide, might give hints to many areas in Tokyo.
Tokyo has experienced various urban environmental problems since the 1970s due to the rapid growth and concentration of population and industries. Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) has successfully solved many of these problems, taking creative measures ahead of the national government and leading other prefectures in Tokyo Region. With the recognition of the limitation of energy resource and global/urban warming caused by excessive use of energy being the most important urban sustainability issues, TMG has started to work on some new measures related to the efficient use of energy. “Carbon Minus Tokyo 10 Years Project” and “Green Tokyo 10 Years Project” are new official initiatives to pursue a sustainable city. It should be noted that this chapter focused on the efforts of Tokyo Metropolitan Government and did not look in to the efforts of other prefectures and local governments.
In Tokyo, urban growth and urban form issues have not been considered explicitly in relation to environmental issues or sustainability issues. Rather, environmental issues were tackled with mainly technological improvements and promotion of eco-life-style. Also, greenery issues were tackled with enhancing and improving existing greenery structure. There is no explicit policy to reorganize or redesign the existing urban form or land use pattern in order to enhance the sustainability of Tokyo.
Since the level to be accomplish is not so high, it might be easy to accomplish current ‘improving and enhancing’ approach. However, If we must reach higher goal in respect with environmental issues and ‘hyper aged society’ issues, we cannot help but adopt more ambitious and difficult approach that reorganize spatial form and infrastructures including innovative public transportation system, comfortable and easy-to-access public spaces and pedestrian environment, and effective and efficient social service system especially for aged people and working mothers.
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