One concept I developed for my PhD was the “Tokyo moment”, basically a very large city growing rapidly. I did this to show how much of a trailblazer Tokyo, the world’s first Asian megacity was, and what this might mean for other cities in developing countries. I also used this “moment” to argue why I chose my period of observation as that covering the postwar period until roughly 1970.
Was postwar Tokyo a slum? This question has been at the heart of several posts on this blog. The first detailed Housing Survey allowing for a ward-level analysis in 1963 can help answer this question to some extent.
My paper in SSJJ explored the supply side of labor-intensive industrialization in an urban setting. It argued that it’s useful to conceive of urban space as a factor of production, like land once was before the neoclassical revolution. The following post shows how it is also useful to consider the urban dimension on the demand side.
Building near Takadanobaba, Tokyo
When skimming the back archives of this blog, I came across a farewell bid to Tokyo back in 2013. My wife and I had just spent six months there – her working and me taking a sabbatical that was to spark a passion for the city. We went back to Tokyo again in 2015, and left quite a long time ago in 2019. This reprise is thus long overdue, especially given the recent dearth of personal posts.
View towards center from a rooftop in Meguro-ku Continue reading
I have been amiss not to post a link to my PhD dissertation, which has been published on the website of my former university, the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, about a year ago. The title is “Urban Space in Economic History: Tokyo as Asia’s First Megacity 1945-1970”. Find the summary after the break.
View from GRIPS, Roppongi
Economic history has a long shelf-life when it comes to the data, but needs to be read in a changing context. Besides taking stock of my research, I want to interrogate myself what impact COVID-19 may have on a future monologue.
The famous Tokyo Tower view
I was remiss not to post a link to a Morgan Stanleys Ideas podcast that I featured on. Head to the website to listen to the episode “Shopping for the Future”, in which the authors try to understand what modern retail can learn from Japan. I start to speak at around 7:00.
One of the chapters of my PhD deals with urban governance in postwar Tokyo. I argue that the intermediate layer of government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, was an effective arbiter of the “developmental city”. A Guardian article from 2015 caught my eye.
I realized when presenting at RIHN in Kyoto on Friday that I still have some work to do with regards to one of my thesis’s major arguments: Small factories in the ward area were more successful because they were more efficient “users” of urban space.