Saturday, 31 October 2015

Planning in place - two different perspectives

Practice observed in Japan revealed two very different approaches to planning. Fieldwork provided examples of how planning is approached in a number of contexts. The Tokyo land economics scene and planning for post-tsunami re-development reveal very different objectives on how planning can be applied in these settings.

The construction of new buildings and the re-furbishment of existing infrastructure reveals planning to provide a physical setting for Japanese economic objectives. In an effort to provide economic stimulus, Japan is encouraging growth in financial services. Not only does the development of new office facilities encourage new investment, it stimulates construction and related industries. Political motivation may explain Tokyo’s drive for re-development. Japan’s leaders must plan recovery from financial recession. Development observed in Tokyo reveals initiatives from leaders to draw the country out of economic stagnation. This provides evidence to citizens that the government is implementing policy for the overall benefit of the country while securing citizen trust and votes. The scale, focus and objectives observed in Tokyo is very different from what was observed in Sendai’s Tsunami recovery efforts.

Observations of re-development policy reveal a more community oriented focus. Recovery efforts are focused on providing solutions that encourage citizen input into re-developing Tsunami effected areas. Re-development aims to re-establish the social and cultural setting of the community, including an important focus on restoring the community’s autonomy and boosting its resilience. Neighbourhood associations provide community input into re-building. Platforms such as the Minami Gamo in Uriage neighbourhood association provide a social setting for planning. The Uri age community expressed a desire to preserve rural and coastal culture. Planning that appoints a Neighbourhood Association allows the development of planning in a social and cultural context. Recovery efforts in Uriage aim to restore cultural icons such as Igune trees and coastal recreational activity. Neighbourhood Associations’ 100-year lifecycle for the review of policy and its success, reveals the acknowledgement of the role history has to play in development objectives. Planning in Sendai highlights the value placed on integrating social, cultural and historic objectives into development strategy. Evidence that Japanese policy recognizes the importance of a healthy and vibrant community when trying to achieve broader goals such as financial recovery and the economic development of Tokyo.

Ben Yates