Another Form of Relocation – – Decentralization

From top left: Shinjuku, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow ...

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It appears as if recovery planners in Japan are considering a wide array of possible options for rebuilding after the Sendai disasters.  One aspect of this is to review the vulnerability and risks in Tokyo.  See Kan Told to Decentralize Japan as Aide Says ‘Big One’ May , Annihilate Tokyo, Bloomberg News, March 27, 2011.  Given the fact that Tokyo is the nation’s business, financial, and political capital, it seems like a good idea to decentralize these activities. Additionally, the rural areas recently devastated need some new forms of commercial and other job-generating activities.

Takayoshi Igarashi has spent much of his career railing against Japan’s public-works spending culture. Now, he’s advocating what could become the nation’s biggest investment in urban planning in decades.  Two days before Japan suffered its record earthquake and a devastating tsunami on March 11, Prime Minister Naoto Kan appointed Igarashi as a Cabinet adviser on coping with Japan’s population decline and rural-region decay. Igarashi says the disaster has made clear the nation must reduce the role of its capital city to avert an even greater catastrophe.

“I told the prime minister that nationwide dispersal is the first thing we need to do as we rebuild,” Igarashi, a professor at Hosei University in Tokyo, said in an interview after meeting with Kan last week. “We have no idea when the big one’s going to hit Tokyo, but when it does, it’s going to annihilate the entire country because everything is here.”

To start with, Igarashi is pressing for a reconstruction package of at least 20 trillion yen ($246 billion), a figure that matches calls from Diet members from both the ruling and largest opposition party. Such an effort would amount to almost half the 44.3 trillion yen cap on bond sales that Kan pledged for the fiscal year starting April 1, risking a surge in yields should the spending be financed through debt.

Kan’s view is that while the immediate task of officials is to control the nuclear crisis, he understands the need for economic dispersal, said Igarashi, who was at the Cabinet Office when the quake hit. Stranded with no train service, he slept in a chair before going home the next day.

Another article on a related topic appeared today in Bloomberg News, March 29.  The focus is on energy supply.

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