Although the population of the Tokyo metropolitan area reaching 14 million people in 2020, Japan is experiencing severe population decline. The urban infrastructure laid during the period of population growth should be restructured, and the development policy should also be reviewed. Almost 30 years have passed since the taxation increase on urban farmland was introduced through revision of the City Planning Act and Productive Green Land Act in 1992. In 2018, these legislations were fundamentally revised. These circumstances require practical measures to facilitate sustainable urban and suburban agriculture.
In addition, urban and suburban farmers are required to restructure their business strategies. Agriculture requires large areas of land and is intimately connected with our daily lives through food. There is an especially strong need for farmers located in urban areas to consider their relationship with local people and consumers. The diversified farming business plays an important role in forming a sustainable urban society. Cross-country and cross-disciplinary knowledge has been accumulated through interactions between urban residents and agriculture.
A noteworthy event during the last decade was the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. This was a harsh awakening about the vulnerability of urban society, which had previously been overconfident. While this reiterated people’s awareness of the function of urban and suburban agriculture, namely that it not only provides open spaces, but also maintains community and supplies food, the issue of concentration in large cities remains unresolved. Urban society is facing a severe crisis in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic engulfing the world. While searching for a new social lifestyle known as the “New Normal,” fundamental questions are being asked about the ideal state of cities.
Given the foregoing background, this book reconstructs the author’s original research relating to urban and suburban agriculture in the Tokyo Urban Area over the last two decades and provides a new perspective. Comprehending the experience of the world’s largest urban areas is essential for considering future urban societies. The urban and suburban agriculture in Japan is thought to be internationally unique, formed due to the superior railway network and the failed urban planning consequences, that is, urban sprawl. Through fieldwork, this book attempts to carefully elucidate the reality of urban and suburban agriculture, where diverse businesses have emerged and become established. An important theme of this book is to approach the underlying principles based on a solid understanding of the situation, without resorting to superficial observations. This would help the reader understand people’s efforts when facing changes in the economic and social environment and consider the essence of sustainable cities and agriculture, based on recent theoretical developments in related academic fields.
(Written by YAGI Hironori, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences / 2021)
Prof. Hironori Yagi’s expertise covers farm business management and rural planning, particularly in the areas of strategic management, organizational governance, business planning of farm businesses, and land use of urban and rural areas. His books include “Theory of Land Use Planning – An Agricultural Management Approach” (2005) and “Regional Agricultural Management in the United Kingdom and Ireland” (2009). He received the Japan Prize in Agricultural Sciences, Achievement Award for Young Scientists in 2010.