The Widening Disparity of Cities and Shrinking Districts in Japan: An Environmental Justice Perspective

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Kiyoshi HASEGAWA , Department of Law and Political Science, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo, Japan
Chihiro SHIMIZU , Department of Economics, Reitaku University, Kashiwa, Japan
In this paper, I describe the widening disparity and class stratification among cities in Japan. Specific focus is placed on impoverished and shrinking districts such as Kamagasaki in Osaka and San’ya in Tokyo, where numerous poor day laborers and homeless people live and work. Niklas Luhmann pointed out that impoverished districts were spatially isolated and excluded on multiple levels from more prosperous areas. In addition, residents in these areas are often burdened with higher levels of environmental risks than are residents of more prosperous areas. Environmental justice or equity (the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens) initiatives therefore focus on these problems.

In this presentation, the historical background leading to the creation of these areas is explored. In addition, potential linkages between numerous factors, such as population decline, residents’ average life expectancies, tuberculosis risks, income levels, crime rates, and land prices in these areas, are evaluated. To highlight linkages, multiple data sets that have been issued by the Japanese government as well as real-estate agents are cross-compared. In terms of the land price factor, a hedonic approach is followed, which incorporates local environmental factors by using a geographic information system (GIS). This approach allows for the incorporation of road traffic noise as a variable indicating the quality of the local environment.