The Process Of Urban Change In Osaka City After The Collapse Of The Economic Bubble: The Case Of Horie, Nishi Ward

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Meric KIRMIZI , Sociology of Culture, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
For the last 30 years, cities everywhere have followed the neoliberal path, including a shift to a service economy, consumerism as a way of life, homogenization of urban spaces, socio-spatial polarization, and urban entrepreneurialism. Japan, with a liberal political economic history but also its own regulatory mechanisms, boarded the bandwagon of neoliberal urbanism, after the asset price bubble collapse in the early 1990s. Since then, the emphasis on Tokyo as Japan’s sole global city to the neglect of other large cities in Japan has accelerated the further adoption of the neoliberal urban policies. Having lost its previous status due to uneven development, Osaka has nevertheless recently been forced to engage neoliberal urbanism by its mayor, Tōru Hashimoto, who sees it as the way out of post-bubble economic and demographic stagnation. The contrast of mushrooming fancy mansions and many homeless in the city renders this policy turn questionable.

In this urban sociological research, I aim to comprehend the process of neoliberalization in Osaka City, observing this change process over the last 30 years in detail at the level of a downtown neighborhood called Horie, located in the Nishi Ward. With reference to the concepts of post-industrial city, gentrification and neoliberal urbanism, the study comprises of an analysis of visual materials and narratives of the long-time residents in the area. Despite being very close to the central business district of Osaka City, Horie has a more residential character and is interesting in terms of the regeneration of its old shopping street of furniture stores during the 1990s. Its current atmosphere is visually similar to the western examples of neoliberalized gentrified neighborhoods, with its up-market mansions, western style cafes, specialty stores claiming to do fair trade, trendy people strolling around, and some small crime like purse-snatching.