chapter
10 Pages

Introduction

During the course of the twentieth century Japan transformed itself from a largely rural country with approximately 15 per cent of its population living in cities, to one of the most urbanised large countries in the world with close to 80 per cent urban population. Superlatives are routinely employed in descriptions of Japanese economic growth and urban development. Of the large developed countries, urbanisation was fastest, and its resulting urban areas biggest. The Tokyo area alone holds over a quarter of the national population, and is now one of the largest urban regions in the world with a population approaching 40 million. Perhaps the most extraordinary manifestation of Japanese urbanisation is the enormous urban industrial belt along the Pacific coastline of the main island of Honshu. Stretching from Tokyo in the east to northern Kyushu in the west, the Tokaido megalopolis, as it is sometimes referred to, houses the overwhelming majority of the Japanese population and productive capacity. Here live some twothirds of the population, on only 23 per cent of the country’s land. Here also, where some 85 per cent of the GDP is produced, are concentrated the bulk of the country’s fixed assets, the main research and development labs, international communications facilities and global financial centres.