Urban Community Formation in Central Tokyo: A Case Study of Chuo Ward

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Asato SAITO, Yokohama National University, Japan
Since the late 1990s Japanese major cities have witnessed a shift from decline to growth of their population in the city center area. Among them, Chuo Ward in Tokyo experienced a particularly dramatic increase in its population. This study examines its impact and implications upon the local communities by analyzing the questionnaire surveys we conducted for the residents in high-rise condominiums and the surrounding areas. They reveals that the growth of population was mainly caused by relatively young adults who live in the condominiums and working as urban professionals. It also shows that their social class is significantly higher than the surrounding area in terms of the average income, occupation, and educational attainment. They seem to have a distinguished characteristics in consumption behavior, social and political consciousness, and the types of human networks they formed in their neighborhood.
The author argues that this new trend of urban community formation is a significant part and parcel of contemporary urbanism which is driven by globally oriented neo-liberal state strategy. In the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese government contributed to form a relatively coherent and homogenous mass middle class society by its suburban public housing program. It has, however, in the last 20 years, shift her policy orientation to encourage more private condominium development in the city center, which in turn created more class-divided urban landscape. The neo-liberal urban project is not limited to the buildings and urban forms, but people’s mind and attitude toward themselves and the neighborhood community. In that sense, the new trend of urban living in the central core of Tokyo exemplifies a changing relationship between the statehood, built environment and urban community, and can be seen as an attempt by the state to create a society which is more in tune with the global neoliberalism.