Chronology of Japanese Planning


Chronology of Japanese Planning

Hari Srinivas


There are several unique features of Japanese planning that has influenced the overall urbanization patterns in Japan. Japan's planning is generally orientated towards physical control in urban areas alone. Rural development, which is one of the main concerns of planning in other countries, is normally beyond the scope of statutory planning, and is influenced by many agricultural protection policies and legislation. In contrast to other planning systems that emphasize comprehensive socio-economic development, physical planning and control remain the mainstay of Japanese planning. Planned urban projects such as land readjustment, urban redevelopment, and provision of urban facilities in order to improve the urban environment have generally received prominence. Planning process and data-gathering activities for effective and autonomous planning is made possible by successful capacitation of planning officials and offices. Well-trained staff in local planning offices are indispensable to planning process. Recent 'machizukuri' or community building movements in many cities and towns in Japan suggest a trend to perceive their environment not merely as physical surroundings, but also as representative of a unique way of life.

The evolution of Japanese City Planning can be divided into eight periods. :

  1. Westernization (1868-1887)
  2. City Block Reforms (1880-1918)
  3. Development of an Urban Planning System (1910-1935)
  4. Wartime Planning (1931-1954)
  5. Postwar Reconstruction (1945-1954)
  6. Urban Expansion (1955-1968)
  7. The New Basic Act (1968-1985)
  8. Anti-Control Movements (1982 - )
Table 1 below shows the principal status, plans and events which have influenced city planning, and actual urban changes during the past hundred years. These periods were outlined by Prof. Yorifusa Ishida in his textbook on planning history, "A Hundred Years of Modern City Planning in Japan" (in Japanese)

Table 1: Brief Chronology of Japanese Planning
Period Events/Plans

1868-1887

WESTERNIZATION
Meiji Reformation
Ginza Brick Streets Development (-1877)
Tokyo Electricity Company

1880-1919

CITY BLOCK REFORMS
Toyko Metropolitan Govt. City Block Reform Planning Office
City Block Reform Planning Council
Tokyo City Block Reform Planning Ordinance
Tokyo City Block Reform Plan
Tokyo City Block Reform Plan amended
Hibiya Park
Tokyo City Block Reform Planning Ordinance applied to
Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe.

1910-1935

DEVELOPMENT OF URBAN PLANNING SYSTEM
Farmland Readjustment Act
(New) Farmland Readjustment Act
City Planning Act / Urban Building Act
National Census
Great Kanto Earthquake - Earthquake Reconstruction Plan
Slum Clearance Act / First Subway between Ueno and Asakusa (Tokyo)

1931-1945

WARTIME PLANNING
Invasion into Machuria
Taiwan Urban Planning Order
Tokyo Open Area Plan
World War II ends

1945-1954

POSTWAR RECONSTRUCTION
Metropolitan Govt. Reconstruction Scheme / Special Urban Planning Act (postwar reconstruction) - 115 Damaged Cities designated
Building Standard Act repealed. Urban Building Act, Metropolis Building Act
Special Urban Planning Act abolished

1955-1963

URBAN EXPANSION
Housing Development Corporation
Road reconstruction Corporation; National Capital Region Development Act; Repealed Metropolitan Govt. Reconstruction Act
1st National Capital Region Development Act
Metropolitan Expressway
Blighted Residential Area Renewal Act
Kenzo Tange 'Tokyo Plan 1960'
New Industrial City Construction Promotion Act
New Residential Town Development Act
Tokaido Shinkansen / Tokyo Olympic Games
Ancient Capitals Protection Act

1968-1985

THE NEW BASIC PLAN
(new) Urban Planning Act
2nd National Capital Regional Development Plan
Urban Redevelopment Act
Conservation Area introduced
3rd National Capital Region Development Plan
District Plan introduced

1982-

ANTI-CONTROL MOVEMENTS
Deregulation circulars increased
Minato Mirai 21 Project
Akasaka Arc Hills redevelopment

Return to the Japan Flavour page
Return to the Japan Urban Observatory
Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org