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Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake

Jeffrey E. Hanes

The massive earthquake that devastated Kobe in 1995 was a shocking occurrence. Some 6200 people died in the catastrophe, and the survivors were left to ponder its causes and consequences. Most accounts of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake have characterized it as a“natural disaster” sudden, shocking eruption of natural forces beyond human control. However -a convenient and common this explanation may be, however, it is also extremely misleading. For, while the earthquake event itself was natural, much of the disaster that followed was human-made. As Miyamoto Ken’ and many others have observed,“The quake was a natural disaster. But ichi fires spread and rescue work was delayed owing to failures in both national and regional fireprevention preparations as well as a lack of safety precautions by companies. This ultimately produced a human-made disaster”(Miyamoto 1996, 13). It was not merely the lack of emergency preparedness that turned the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake into a catastrophe, however. Drawing our attention to the many infrastructural and structural failures that Kobe suffered, Miyamoto and others have carried their diagnosis of this “human-made disaster”one critical step further (Miyamoto 1996, 8). For his part, Miyamoto has reminded us that Japan’ postwar commitment to rapid urban industrial growth was frequently s made at the expense of human safety. Noting that the metropolitan conurbations of Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka have been developed as vessels of industrial capitalism and are now surrounded by volatile petrochemical plants, he has exhorted the Japanese leadership to rethink the nation’ developmental priorities. Echoing Miyamoto’ assessment of the Kobe disaster as“a s s tragedy that seems to foreshadow the demise of Japan as a great economic superpower” (Miyamoto 1995, 86), Gavan McCormack has wondered aloud whether Japan will actually set a new developmental course before it is too late.“It remains to be seen,”writes McCormack,“whether the Kobe shocks will serve to shift Japan from the treadmill track of growth, consumption, and waste onto the very different track of sustainable development”(McCormack 1996, 16). While there is much evidence to suggest that government, business, and the public all have taken the challenge of sustainable development seriously, the real question is whether they have


As of 1996. prefectural. In its 1998 report on earthquake reconstruction in Kobe. highways. their respective critics shared similar reservations about the application of these assumptions to the enterprise of reconstruction. Despite their seeming enthusiasm for community reconstruction in Kobe. by means of the nation’ technological s and financial power. I will argue that this eventuality was quite predictable. Since 1996. 341). as represented especially by housing. and local authorities have confronted these pressing social concerns. while those of 1995 treated it as a means of enhancing its postwar superpower status. 351). then. I will contend that the planners who engineered Kobe’ reconstruction were little different s ideologically from those who engineered Tokyo’ reconstruction following the Great Kanto s Earthquake in 1923. Given the palpable enthusiasm of central. In brief. 16). planners paid lip service to community reconstruction. the critics of Tokyo’ road-centered reconstruction called for the creation of“livable cities” s (sumigokochi yoki toshi). In both cases. the basic issue did not. thus placing Japan on the path toward a new democratic paradigm of urban planning. But where urban life is concerned. however. The planners of 1923 treated reconstruction as a means of restoring Japan’ prewar great power s status.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 taken it seriously enough. Not only did these two distant generations of planners proceed from shared assumptions about the nature of modernization and progress. But“housing and welfare services have received little attention”(Miyamoto 1996. and port facilities. central. As of 1998. In the following essay. the‘hard’elements of reconstruction such as infrastructure have been largely achieved. the authorities have failed to achieve many of their objectives in the critical areas of“housing reconstruction”(jûtaku fukkô) and“social welfare”(shakai fukushi). it might seem surprising that they made so little progress between 1995 and 1998. they have approached“reconstruction planning”(fukkô keikaku) as a consultative process focused on the local community. in fact. three years after the earthquake disaster.”he observed. while those of Kobe’ infrastructure-centered reconstruction s anticipated the advent of a“sustainable society”(susteinaburu sosaietei). and in both cases. What makes it possible for us to make such an explicit comparison between these distant −124− . Indeed. numerous disaster victims remain mired in troubling circumstances”(Ritsumeikan Daigaku Shinsai Fukko Kenkyu Purojiekuto 1998. and local authorities for community reconstruction. the Governor of Hyogo Prefecture was compelled to admit that social reconstruction continued to lag far behind infrastructural reconstruction (Ritsumeikan Daigaku Shinsai Fukkô Kenkyû Purojiekuto 1998. prefectural. the Ritsumeikan University Earthquake Disaster Research Project confirmed the Hyogo Prefectural Governor’ disturbing s findings:“Today.“Priority has been given to restoration of railway lines. Miyamoto insisted that they had not. of course. the critics of these planners attempted unsuccessfully to press the community reconstruction agenda by redefining cities as social subjects. but respectively treated Tokyo and Kobe as economic objects. however. Although the rhetoric changed between 1923 and 1995.

Shaken by a massive earthquake measuring 7. In Tokyo alone. incinerated. The Great Kanto Earthquake was a catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions. and some panicked residents were ultimately driven to mass murder. as in 1995 Kobe. In an effort to capture the magnitude of the catastrophe. their battered corpses heaped indiscriminately atop the piles of crushed. Setting nearly half the city of Tokyo ablaze. and drowned bodies that littered the city (Nakajima 1995). what the authorities chose to highlight −125− . and other innocent victims were brutally murdered. Amidst the chaos of the conflagration. Untold thousands of Koreans. the authorities and their critics easily and often dramatically betrayed their most deeply-held ideological presuppositions. They spread rapidly through the densely-constructed. relief or reconstruction”(Oliver-Smith 1986. throw theoretical and practical issues into high relief. Significantly.9 on the Japanese scale-a jolt strong enough to stop the clock on the Central Meteorological Observatorythe great cities of Tokyo and Yokohama were brought to their knees. Mass hysteria ruled.000. rumors flew wildly and conspiracy theories ran rampant. In the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. and some 310. the first. second. If we can take the disaster researcher Anthony Oliver-Smith at his word. then it is not the least surprising that people wore their values on their sleeves. wooden neighborhoods of Tokyo and Yokohama. Chinese. had been trapped in an open compound near Ryôgoku. Many of these fires were ignited by overturned braziers lit minutes earlier for noontime tea. perhaps as many as 44. as fires raged across the city. One such rumor.300. As Smith has poignantly observed. In 1923 Tokyo. While the earthquake wrought considerable damage. by the urgency of the needs of those threatened or stricken by disasters for effective prevention.“Disasters. protection. compelling hundreds of thousands of urban residents to seek refuge where they could.000-roughly 58 percent of the city’ population-and an s estimated 70. which spread to a populace half-crazed by aftershocks and firestorms-of a Korean conspiracy to set fires and poison wells-turned neighborhood watch groups into mobs of vigilantes bent on the crudest form of street justice.Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. Asphyxiated and incinerated by a rogue firestorm.000 dwellings were destroyed. Tokyo was nothing short of a living hell. When the smoke cleared and government officials assessed the damage. by their tendency to lay bare the essential features and processes of social and cultural organization and. 3). 1923. as few other research subjects. Hanes) reconstruction projects is the explicit nature of the historical record. the unidentifiable victims were later cremated en masse. the Tokyo Municipal Office later produced a dramatic graphic that compared the conflagration in Tokyo to the world’ most s infamous urban fires (See Figure 1). however. the fires that followed produced a holocaust.500 people had lost their lives. they were awestruck. nearly 3500 hectares were laid to waste. The homeless numbered 1. these raging fires ravaged the city for three full days. however. Disaster struck at 11:58 AM on September 1. asphyxiated. More than half of the dead. in the wake of catastrophe.

000 5.880 12.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 was not the tragic loss of life but the massive“loss of wealth”(Tokyo Municipal Office 1933.768.386.836 Loss of Wealth yen 107. 2-6 1871 Oct. 8-9 1906 April 18-21 1923 Sept. Here. 1-3 Butnt Area (sq.. among other things.506.034 Figure 1.“Burnt Areas of the World Great Fires” Source: The Reconstruction of Tokyo (1933) −126− . 97) that Tokyo experienced.beyond the control of human agency” -a LONDON SAN FRANCISCO CHICAGO TOKYO Cities London Chicago San Francisco Tokyo Year 1666 Sept. the authorities tacitly identified Tokyo as an economic entity by identifying the earthquake as an economic disaster.000 750. the authorities doctored the human disaster narrative. as they silently compared notes with their counterparts in Europe and America. they systematically sanitized the human suffering that defined this social catastrophe (Kaizôsha 1924.m.. From the outset. state authorities did their best to put a political spin on the earthquake calculated to absolve them of any blame for the disaster and thus to give them free rein in setting the agenda for reconstruction.300.477. Equally significantly.595.000 330.344 33. Suppressing photographs of the holocaust at Ryogoku and censoring accounts of the city-wide lynching of Koreans. The official account of the Great Kanto Earthqnuake poigantly characterized the event as a“case of force majeure.) 1.000.165. 70-71).603 8.000.

”summarily rejecting their call for capital relocation (Watanabe 1984). Instead proposing a three billion yen program for capital reconstruction that anticipated the re-creation of Tokyo as a modern metropolis. and their expansive expression of compassion for disaster victims. when Japan had stepped up industrial production. After all. the newly-appointed Home Minister Gotô Shimpei seized the moment. it threw the enterprise of national progress into high relief. Gotô’ proposal prevailed for a number of reasons. but s most importantly because it resonated with the nation’ continuing commitment to rapid economic s development. stepped into international markets. Fully two-thirds of Japan’ industrial production was concentrated in cities along this conurbation (Hanes 1993. and stepped through to such booming economic success that it was transformed into a global power. As the“Imperial Edict on Reconstruction”proclaimed. Accordingly. s and this simple fact impelled officials such as Gotô to re-conceive the imperial capital as a modern industrial metropolis. the imperial government had made its position on reconstruction crystal clear.“Tokyo. the Great Kanto Earthquake had not merely struck down the imperial capital but struck at the socio-economic epicenter of the modern nation-state. he identified Tokyo’ reconstruction with the hopes and dreams of Japan itself. s By September 12.”ultimately pronouncing it a“great holocaust”that had“arrested the progress of national development.”who cast the catastrophe as“a heavenly punishment for sybaritic urbanites.”Having thus identified the Great Kanto Earthquake as an unavoidable natural disaster-and one that had struck at the heart of the modern nation-the authorities initially concluded that“the utmost that could be hoped for in the circumstances was to restrict the scope of the misery and to devise a conscientious programme of relief”(Bureau of Social Affairs 1926. the disaster came on the heels of the First World War. the capital of the empire. Hanes) “terrible outburst of the forces which may at any time overwhelm a nation. the Japanese leadership ultimately exhibited far less concern with human relief than with material reconstruction.Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. has been looked upon by the people as the centre of political and economic activities and the fountainhead of the cultural advancement of the nation. including his ample political influence. Because Tokyo was central to that success-as the eastern metropolitan anchor of an emerging industrial conurbation that extended to Osaka along the Tokaido Belt-the Great Kanto Earthquake loomed particularly large in the minds of the Japanese leadership. When the Great Kanto Earthquake laid waste to Tokyo in 1923. Notwithstanding their fatalistic public assessment of the earthquake and its aftermath. As Gotô saw it. And they evinced only superficial interest in more temperate popular proposals to invest in“land readjustment”(kukaku seiri) schemes designed to promote residential livability. They ignored the outcry of“agrarianists and moralists. With the unforeseen visit of the −127− . iii).”The state went on to declare the Great Kanto Earthquake the“most horrible [disaster] ever know since authentic history began. 62). 1923.

As the Home Office’ careful justification of the s reconstruction imperative demonstrates. while all the European nations suffered terrible losses in the Great War. Gotô had sent Beard an urgent cable on September 7-some say. and the devastation of the metropolis and the prosperous cities and towns greatly affected her international position. nor a livable city. the foremost of our leading ports. Japan ranked with the principal Powers of the world after the Russo-Japanese War and. then Mayor of Tokyo. which was the same position subsequently adopted by the state in the emperor’ name. The remedial work.”loudly echoed Gotô’ original proposal. 33). Beard. frontispiece). therefore. Leaving nothing to chance at this critical juncture. completely to transform the avenues and streets”(Bureau of Social Affairs 1926. 82). the version of progress that won the day was starkly materialistic. ought not to consist merely in the reparation of the quondam metropolis. In short. inflicted upon the nation a cruel wound and one not easy to heal. nevertheless. who had returned to New York just months earlier from a field study of municipal government in Japan commissioned by Gotô. When we take this fact into consideration. moreover. but. This proposal. the city has entirely lost its former prosperous contours but retains. Thoroughgoing reconstruction needed [Stop]. The position taken by Beard and Gotô on the reconstruction of Tokyo. however. he cabled ahead these urgent instructions:“Lay out new streets. In short. As the story goes. She enjoyed. in ample provisions for the future development of the city. s virtually reiterated the advice of Charles A. not simply to repair the“quondam metropolis. the first“official news”of the earthquake outside of Japan-that read as follows:“Earthquake and fire destroyed the greater part of Tokyo [Stop]. a phenomenal boom in her business and industry. Beard. reportedly packed his bags and sailed immediately for Yokohama. rose to the position of one of the great Powers of the World and continued to be a dominant factor in the Pacific. Beard said exactly what Gotô hoped to hear: that the foremost challenge of urban reconstruction was to make Tokyo more efficient. the imperial government did not hope to transform Tokyo into a glittering capital. unify railway stations”(Quoted in Cybriwsky 1991. she emerged from it scatheless. This imperial entreaty to build a“national capital”worthy of the distinction. forbid building without street lines. but a fluid metropolis. we are bound to believe that the restoration of the Imperial Capital is necessary for the restoration of the Empire”(Bureau of Social Affairs 1926.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 catastrophe. former director of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research and an internationally-renowned champion of scientific urban management. even for a short stay”[Stop] (Beard 1923. −128− . later. the capital of the Empire. its position as the national capital. reveals how the planners of s reconstruction conceptualized national progress. The argument was made in the following way:“The almost total destruction of Tokyo. Suddenly an ‘act of God’ struck her a terrible blow. Please come immediately if possible. in turn. and the complete destruction of Yokohama. v).

illustrates the functionalist assumptions on which his vision of the new imperial capital rested.“relief and reconstruction are shown to be often disproportionately focused upon restoring. The post-earthquake reconstruction priorities exhibited by Japan in 1923 mirror those that prevail today-not merely in Kobe but more generally in cases of disaster relief and reconstruction across the world. As Kenneth Hewitt observes. Hanes) This extraordinary national[istic] narrative. then goes on to suggest that its“international position” has been seriously compromised by the“devastation of the metropolis. and in those of the urban planners he soon employed. Looking past the dire condition of disaster victims and toward this grand material objective. As Governor General of Taiwan. center of commerce and industry. and more than restoring. Gotô had unsuccessfully introduced a comprehensive metropolitan plan whose 800 million yen price tag was so unbelievable that it won him the nickname“Big Talker”(Koshizawa 1992. Moreover. Where this stillborn proposal left off. he came to his new charge as a man on a mission. and engineers who implemented the reconstruction program aimed not merely to“restore”previous“infrastructural arrangements”but to strengthen and solidify these arrangements. While most earlier planners had put great emphasis on the symbolic function of Tokyo as teito (the imperial capital). rather than direct responses to the needs of victims”(Hewitt 1983). s From the outset. he wielded immense power and influence. the infrastructural arrangements of the more powerful institutions of the economy. The first sketch of Gotô’ reconstruction plan. he had been able to initiate a sweeping program of urban modernization in the capital of Taipei. What is more. pure and simple. Whither goes the metropolis. Having served earlier as the Governor General of Taiwan as well as the Mayor of Tokyo-and being a man who freely walked the halls of national power-Gotô could forcefully promote his reconstruction agenda. Tokyo was first and foremost the pulsing center of the modern nation-state. His sketch of the new and improved capital −129− . which traces Japan’rise as a s “Power of the world” to its commercial and industrial growth. as Mayor of Tokyo. Two years earlier. 4-11). Gotô was the guiding force behind reconstruction of the imperial capital. planners. Where the reconstruction of Tokyo was concerned.”leaves little to the imagination. and he brought this bracing experience to bear on reconstruction planning for the Japanese metropole (Mochida 1983. the s “metropolis”described in this scenario was not viewed as a dynamic urban community but as an abstract economic entity. Gotô’ s reconstruction plan began. Gotô stressed its socioeconomic function as taito (the great capital).Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. In his mind. they devoted themselves to the task of increasing the efficiency of the metropolis’ spatial economy. this was undeniably the case. presented to the Bureau soon after its s formation. there follows the nation and the empire: This was the state’ message. 8-11). The architects. indeed. the state and international system. Serving simultaneously as Home Minister and as director of the Bureau for Reconstruction of the Imperial Capital.

Gotô’ plan was a sophisticated s functionalist fantasy (Ishida 1992. after instituting a s proper plan. it is important to understand what made them tick. Their perspective as planners prevented them from attributing the disaster either to supernatural intervention or to human irrationality. manifestoes. surveys. Not unlike the contemporary disaster planners discussed by geographer Kenneth Hewitt.and fire-prone city. Closely modeled after the idealized vision for“New Tokyo”produced in 1921 by Fukuda Shigeyoshi. that they simply sell the land back. who continued to (re)construct flimsy“fire traps” s (yakeya) following each new disaster in their earthquake. In 1923. the planning profession had been born out of concern in the late 1910s to guide Japan’ virtually unchecked metropolitan development. he placed urban planners at center stage. the Bureau’ urban planners rose to the occasion. directly invites catastrophe would not be wilfully put in place. they s guided the reconstruction program through to completion in 1930. Still in its infancy at the time of the earthquake. Equally fantastic was Gotô’ proposal to implement this s scheme. and. 38). unavoidable accident of nature. It is no exaggeration to say that urban planners dictated the course and the character of Tokyo’ reconstruction as a modern s metropolis. for this reason. [Their] materialism assumes that human activity derives from‘self-interest’whose first . he thrust an unlikely cast of characters into the national limelight. drawings. rule is‘survival’or at least belongs to an underlying principle of adaptation. urban planners identified the Great Kanto Earthquake as a simple.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 encompassed undeveloped land on the outskirts of the old capital and highlighted the creation of a network of new roads designed to grease the wheels of commerce and industry. 65-87). To their credit. s preparing maps. charts. utilitarian”assumptions that continue to govern the planning profession today. Although the s profession only began to grow following the enactment of the Urban Planning Law in 1919. when Gotô set up the Bureau for Reconstruction. and research monographs. To quote Hewitt on the matter. In so doing. Translating their newly-acquired expertise into 468 million yen’ worth of urban projects. statistics. planners“cannot contemplate human action as leading to destruction. Too scientific to blame the earthquake on a“giant catfish”(namazu) and too utilitarian to blame the fires that followed on the fatalism of Tokyo’ inhabitants. Gotô offered its practitioners what he presented as the“grand opportunity to build an imperial capital” (Quoted in Koshizawa 1991. What distinguished urban planners from most other urban visionaries who burst onto the scene during the excitement of Tokyo’ reconstruction was their dedication to scientific s management. An activity that . to the collapse of institutions or disorganisation of the space economy. Guided by the same“scientific. except‘by accident’ ”(Hewitt −130− . a city engineer who subsequently rose high in the ranks of the Bureau. He initially proposed that the government buy up all the city’ land and. (Nihon Toshi Keikaku Gakkai 1992. 156). Japanese urban planners worked from the basic premise that human action is fundamentally rational and utilitarian. they confronted the ravages of the Great Kanto Earthquake with disconcertingly clinical objectivity.

17). urban planners began to work up plans for Tokyo that illustrated the ideals they espoused. they freed themselves instead to pursue reconstruction with the abject functionalism that their training called for and their leaders dictated. the event was a tragic.Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. Hanes) 1983.”urban planners impoverished their own social science. therefore. unavoidable accident of nature that required no further explanation. called for the creation of a new central railway station and an expansive commercial ward. Their predisposition to blame the disaster on what Hewitt terms“ ‘impersonal. they cannot conceive of a disaster by human commission:“To orchestrate devastation in a rational. flush with idealism for what the new capital promised to be.” When Japanese urban planners confronted the bleak reality of the Great Kanto Earthquake. worked in a sketch of “model”avenue deployment and building heights-a model he recommended as a reference point for the planning of Japanese city streets (Ishizu 1923). s Equally impressed with Western models of urban transport efficiency was the reconstruction planner Tagawa Daikichirô. Clamoring loudly for the reconstruction of Tokyo as a planned capital. Soon after the Bureau of Reconstruction was formed in 1923. Ishizu’ sketch similarly idealized the goal of metropolitan consolidation. its Planning Section submitted a research report on“the construction of contemporary cities”that set forth with remarkable candor the premises and priorities of its urban planners. then to ignore the preexisting socio-economic geography of power that had helped make it one in the first place (Hewitt 1983. who prefaced his remarks on“the Tokyo we should build” (tsukuraru beki Tôkyô) with an introduction to the imperial capital as a“global city”and an appeal for“idealism”in its construction. In 1923.”Japanese urban planners in 1923 reflexively attributed the Great Kanto Earthquake to a blameless“act of God. placed the highest priority on efficient ground transportation (Tagawa 1923. whose“city of the future”plan plotted the systematic expansion of Paris through the creation of a network of roads dedicated to specified functions. In their cultural construction of the catastrophe. Much as disaster planners today speak euphemistically of“natural disasters. Ishizu Sanjirô. and promoting this enterprise as the key to Japan’ continuing pursuit s of progress. Precisely because they subscribed to this benign interpretation of the Great Kanto Earthquake as a“natural disaster. they mostly shook their heads. 16-17). 27). Drawn from an influential urban manifesto by the French architect Eugene Hénard. Having thus given themselves a convenient excuse to ignore the possibility that past mistakes in planning might have caused the disaster. one of these planners. objective’forces”allowed them to acknowledge the earthquake as a human tragedy. urban planners reduced civilization to its least common denominator: material advancement.“In order to minimize the damage of a −131− . For a series of lectures introduced by Goto late that year. materialist world is to be criminal or mad”(Hewitt 1983. While planners may attribute a disaster to human omission. iv and 1). in other words. His proposal for“the Tokyo we should build” which .

in the end. s But. 7). Tokyo’ planners laid bare the functionalist logic of their plans for s reconstruction. Increasingly. but it is clear that he and other planners had begun to master something else: the art of political doublespeak. concluded with a rhetorical plea for realism:“Let us not lose sight of actuality. Tokyo`s erstwhile reconstructionists trumpeted the benefits of“urban planning” :“Through urban planning. Soon. more rational and scientific” (Teito Fukkôin Keikaku-kyoku 1923. Tokyo and Yokohama must not neglect to establish uniform building codes and to improve city streets. nor lose sight of our ideals. the Bureau’ planners spoke with the hubris of“planning engineers. but this time with a markedly different emphasis. they focused their attention on the burnt-out downtown districts of the metropolis. What Ishihara meant by “master[ing] all reality”is not at all clear. Yet. cities can be transformedfrom‘cities that developed naturally’into‘cities built by man’ ”(Teito Fukkôin Keikaku-kyoku. Tokyo’ urban planners soon came under attack from within the capital and without for s their high flying. Up to this point.”pitting s humankind against nature as a civilizing force. the Bureau invested the lion’ share of its time and money on s the enhancement of intra. 3-4. Gotô and his phalanx of urban planners began to beat a strategic retreat from their grandiose pronouncements of 1923. −132− . In the years of reconstruction that followed. the respected civil engineer Ishihara Kenji gave every indication that their backpedaling had begun. Noting ashamedly that Westerners had been heard to s remark sarcastically on the lack of paved roads in Japan. reality laid siege to the grandiose city vision promoted by Gotô and his urban planners.and inter-urban transport. in the survey that followed of contemporary city building in Europe and the United States. 276).“Only in this way will they be able to make the management of these cities. functionalist model-making. Altogether. Placed in a defensive posture by popular resistance to many of their schemes. His book on “planning the contemporary city. they plotted 52 new roads and 424 new bridges. which have expanded with the economy. the Bureau’ urban planners tipped their hand.”which included a hortatory introduction by Gotô’ right-hand s man Sano Riki. the report clearly linked the Bureau’ road building agenda to urban safety. when popular criticism of reconstruction intensified. In 1924. Keen to revive the commercial and industrial economy of these districts.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 future disaster. in the widely-read journal Chûô kôron. 1). Gonda wryly noted that the massive project proposed for“reconstruction of the [new] imperial capital”(teito fukkô) promised to achieve many things but“restoration of the [old] imperial capital”(teito fukko) was not one of them (Gonda 1923. One of the first to raise the alarm was the cultural gadfly Gonda Yasunosuke. Attributing the dearth of paved roads to the“unchecked expansion”of urban Japan. Barely two months after the earthquake. the authors again picked up their favorite theme of road building. In the end. 265). rather than to cultivate residential livability.”wrote the Bureau. but master all reality”(Ishihara 1924.

“Reconstruction of the national capital after the Great Kanto Earthquake.”they observed.“Tokyo Before the Earthquake” Source: The Reconstruction of Tokyo (1933) −133− .”we see a welter of haphazardly laid out streets. presents two cartographic versions of the metropolis: before and after. which depicts“Tokyo Before the Earthquake. it is hardly surprising that many other Figure 2. we see only the efficient network of“main”and“auxiliary”streets that the Bureau carefully planned. s published in 1933.“offered a golden opportunity to remake Tokyo into a business center of a newly capitalist country”(Tokyo Metropolitan Government 1994.Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. In its place. In the second. Hanes) That these new roads were the central features of the Bureau’ plans for Tokyo becomes s manifoldly clear when one examines the maps that it produced to celebrate the reconstruction enterprise (see Figures 2 and 3). Significantly. which portrays the“Reconstruction Plan of Tokyo. in its historical assessment of the reconstruction effort. The official volume commemorating Tokyo’ reconstruction. the Tokyo Metropolitan Government triumphantly celebrated the completion of this street network as a key development in the rise of Japanese capitalism.”this jumble has disappeared. Given the attention paid to road building by the Bureau. In the first. 24).

it agreed to allow landowners to construct cheap housing normally prohibited by the city’ building codes and to erect“temporary s −134− . Perhaps the most disturbing deficiency in the Bureau’ plan was the lack of attention paid to s residential reform. through a combination of myopia and miserliness. the Bureau issued zoning variances calculated to win their cooperation. the Bureau actually exacerbated Tokyo’ residential problems. Indeed.“Reconstruction Plan of Tokyo” Source: The Reconstruction of Tokyo (1933) worthy projects went by the board.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 Figure 3. in exchange for land to build roads. When landowners unexpectedly resisted its efforts to s widen streets by shrinking residential plots. Specifically. It is instructive to consider just which projects these were.

While these reform-minded urban planners were welcome in cities such as Osaka.Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. While Tokyo’ reconstruction planners were wonderfully s long on the rhetoric of residential reform. however. In the end. whose leadership openly resisted Tokyo centrism from the 1920s. sewers. Hanes) housing”on internal lots that had previously been zoned vacant. this was the most sweeping urban initiative introduced by the Bureau and was ostensibly central to its metropolitan agenda. and those projects it did undertake in other parts of the city ultimately devolved into little more than road building schemes. which dictated the s planning agendas of 37 cities by 1923. this meant re-creating Tokyo as the modern metropolis of the empire. the Bureau did not undertake land readjustment projects in the western districts that had attracted the lion’ share of displaced tenants from Tokyo’ burnt-out s s downtown. Urban planners outside of Tokyo. particularly those employed by municipal governments. Sitting near the top of Japan’ top-heavy urban planning administration. In the hopes of reversing this trend. Then there was the question of“land readjustment”(kukaku seiri). as central government bureaucrats. What is more. and other urban amenities. given the obvious similarity between reconstruction planning in 1923 Tokyo and 1995 Kobe. Significantly. As characterized in the Urban Planning Law of 1919. water lines. the Bureau did not propose merely to apply its capitalistic logic to the reconstruction of Tokyo but to extend it to urban Japan as a whole. Galvanized by their mutual antipathy for the urban planning bureaucracy in Tokyo-and. in the way that Tokyo’ s planners had. Other than urban transport planning. more specifically. Its explicit purpose was to accommodate urban demographic expansion by creating planned neighborhoods complete with roads. Rather than objectivizing their cities as abstract economic entities. Thus these substandard“temporary” structures were rendered permanent by default. and reconstruction resulted paradoxically in a pattern of residential overcrowding that actually worsened housing conditions in Tokyo (Ishida 1995). came to consider the urban planning establishment in Tokyo as an adversary. it would seem as though the objectifiers continue to prevail today. With respect to reconstruction. land readjustment was conceived to promote the rational planning of undeveloped land on the outskirts of the city. they subjectivized their cities as social communities. Although these zoning variances were introduced as emergency measures-and while landlords were put on notice that they would be expected to upgrade substandard housing and to remove temporary structures within five years-the city ultimately failed to enforce its own laws. their impact was negligible in the capital itself. they were woefully short on results. then. Miyamoto Ken’ has called for an urban revolution of ichi −135− . for the functionalist ideology that it often forced on urban planning in their respective cities-municipal urban planners openly rejected the most basic premise of reconstruction planning in the mid1920s. Tokyo’ reconstruction planners assimilated s their professional principles of scientific management to the interests of the nation-state.

Tokyo: Chikuma Shobô. placing local people rather than central bureaucrats in the driver’ s seat. it would also afford Japan’ urban citizens an essential opportunity to place people first in the planning and s construction of their cities.“Teito fukkô to minshû goraku.”In Dokyumento Kantô Daishinsai. Mikan no Tôkyô keikaku. McCormack. Kaizôsha.    . 1924. Cultural Constraints.“From Megalopolis to Megaroporisu. Cybriwsky. 86-96).“Earthquake Hazard Mitigation and Urban Planning in Japan: Historical Lessons. Hewitt. Tôkyô toshi keikaku monogatari. Ishizu Sanjiro. Charles A. Tokyo: Kyôyôsha. The Emptiness of Japanese Affluence. 1993. Sharpe. Let us hope that this revolution takes place before“the big one”strikes. Home Office of Japan. from the viewpoint of human ecology.1:6-19. 1923.”Zen’ ei. Taishô Daishinsai shi. Sharply critical of the autocratic enterprise of“urban management”(toshi keiei) that has guided reconstruction in Kobe-where planners have only reluctantly and ambivalently brought the city’ inhabitants into the decision making process-Miyamoto advocates the introduction of s democratic“urban [public] policy”(toshi seisaku) in its place. London: Belhaven Press. Future Prospects. 1992. the citizens of Kobe have struggled valiantly to assert control over their destiny. Tokyo: Kôgaku Shoin.E. Jeffrey E. References Beard.“Shinsai fukkô toshi keikaku wa dô aru beki ka.政策科学7−3,Mar.2000 sorts. While such a decentralization of urban authority would certainly create problems of its own. Tôkyô no toshi keikaku.”In Interpretations of Calamity. The Great Earthquake of 1923 in Japan. 1996. edited by Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Ishida Yorifusa. Gendai toshi no keikaku. Tokyo: Home Office.”In Proceedings of the 5th United States/Japan Workshop on Urban Earthquake Hazard Reduction: Recovery and Reconstruction from Recent Earthquakes. 1997.    . ichi.”Japan Quarterly. Toshi keikaku kôwa. His hope is not merely to reverse the vectors of urban power. −136− . Gavan. 1991. edited by Kenneth Hewitt. 1996. Hanes. Tokyo: The Changing Profile of an Urban Giant. Boston: Allen & Unwin. London: M. Ishihara Kenji. 1992. One can only hope that their example will spawn support for the sort of urban populism that Miyamoto has envisioned. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. 1995. 43. 1924. Kenneth. Tokyo: Sôfûkan. Koshizawa Akira. The Administration and Politics of Tokyo: A Survey and Opinions.2:56-94. Miyamoto Ken’ 1996. Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Hyoronsha. but to reinvent Japanese cities in the process (Miyamoto 1995. Oakland. 1991. California: Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.“The idea of calamity in a technocratic age. 1926. Bureau of Social Affairs. 19.“Learning the Lessons of Disaster. 1983.    . 1923.”The Journal of Urban History. Gonda Yasunosuke. 1923. New York: The Macmillan Company. Roman. In the wake of disaster. Tokyo: Kaizôsha.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government. edited by Vinson H. Tokyo: Teito Fukkôin.“Metropolitanism as a Way of Life: the Case of Tokyo. 607:86-96. Ritsumeikan Daigaku Shinsai Fukkô Purojiekuto. Sutlive. 1923. Tokyo: Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Tokyo: Yûzankaku. Teito Fukkôin Keikaku-kyoku. Mario D. Nihon Toshi Keikaku Gakkai.”In Metropolis 1890-1940. Tôkyô daitoshiken: chiiki kôzô/keikaku no ayumi/shôrai no tenbô. 35. Virginia: Studies in Third World Societies. Tokyo: Yuhikaku. Watanabe. Gendai toshi no kensetsu. Shun’ ichi. 1992. 1995.Urban Planning as an Urban Problem: The Reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake(Jeffrey E. The Reconstruction of Tokyo. Tokyo: Shokokusha. I. 1994. Tagawa Daikichirô. 1868-1930. and Virginia Kerns. Williamsburg. Tokyo Municipal Office. London: University of Chicago Press. Tokyo: Ganmatsudo Shoten. 1923. Tsukuraru beki Tôkyô. edited by Anthony Sutcliffe. Zamora. 1933. 1983. Kantô Daishinsai.“Gotô Shinpei to shinsai fukkô jigyô:‘mansei fukyô’ka no toshi supendeingu. A Hundred Years of Planning. Anthony.”Sekai. 1986. 1995. Mochida Nobuki. 1998.“Toshi keiei kara toshi seisaku e: shinsai no kyôkun to atarashii machi zukuri. Oliver-Smith.”In Natural Disasters and Cultural Responses. Tokyo: Tokyo Municipal Office. Nakajima Yûichirô. −137− . Shinsai fukkô no seisaku kagaku: Hanshin-Awaji Daishinsai no kyôkun to fukkô no tenbô.” Shakai kagaku kenkyû.“Disaster Context and Causation. 1984. Nathan Altshuler. Hanes)    .2:1-60.