Migration and Pre-2020 Olympic Urban Renewal in Tokyo

Friday, 20 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Chikako MORI, HItotsubashi University, Japan
This paper investigates the nature and impacts of pre-2020 Olympics urban renewal projects and public policies in the city-center of Tokyo, by focusing on its “migration oriented dimensions”. Discussing Tokyo’s “migration led gentrification” or “foreigners friendly policies” may sound unexpected at first glance, or even inappropriate, as the Japanese capital hasn’t been known for its demographic diversity; the rate of foreign born population is far lower than in other global cities (4 % compared to 36% in New York or 37% in London in 2017), while the discourses of “homogenous Japan” in public debate and “no-immigration principle” in policy making seem to be still dominant. This paper, however, demonstrates how the situation has changed since the beginning of the new century. As we will demonstrate in this paper, Tokyo Metropolitan Government has become very interested in attracting foreign populations who can be classified into two different categories: better-off populations and low-wage workers. In the context of intense worldwide competition among cities, enhancing Tokyo’s attractiveness and global city status comes to be at the top of its political agenda. 2020 Olympic games represent a great opportunity for the TMG to achieve a series of urban renewal projects to attract foreign tourists (their number has sharply increased from 4.1 millions in 2011 to 13.1 millions in 2016) as well as wealthy expatriates (a new urban renewal plan has been announced in 2017 for turning Tokyo into a “global financial hub”). Such a change has also brought an important need for migrant workers in several industries and their increasing presence contributes to transform the city as well. Based on a qualitative research, this paper analyzes the consequences of these shifts on the city and its community, examining in what ways and to what extent they have made the city more uneven.