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Neoliberalism toshi to shakai kakusa (Neoliberal Cities and Social Disparities - Towards a transformation into inclusive cities)


312 pages, A5 format, hardcover




March 30, 2021



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Neoliberalism toshi to shakai kakusa

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This book is the first attempt in Japan to address globally developing social disparities from the perspective of urban and national land policies. Social disparities have become major issues around the world in recent years. Looking at social disparity from a spatial perspective, we can see problems in the context of different scales, such as social disparity on a national scale, in terms of regional disparities between large cities and rural areas, especially those caused by the concentration of resources in megacities, and on an urban scale, in terms of intra-city disparity within our megacities.
In recent years, neoliberal urban policies have led many countries and cities to experience widening social disparities, spatial disparities within cities, and deepening regional disparities on a national scale. New national land, urban, and housing policy theories are needed to counteract these spatial divisions. Generally, neoliberal policies are perceived as having replaced Keynesian welfare state policies by introducing market-centric economic policies based on deregulation, cutting back on government expenditures for welfare, including social housing, and implementing tax cuts and decentralization directed at reducing the government’s role in redistributing national income. Even in Japan, which has traditionally been perceived as having a developmentalist system, neoliberal policies have become mainstream since the 2000s. The Japanese government once sought to control urban overcrowding and to equalize regional disparities through such regional policies as implementing an income redistribution policy incorporating tax grants allocated to outlying regions, subsidies, public investment, and restrictions on the location of factory buildings in large cities. In contrast, the neoliberal regional policies that began in the 1980s with the private-sector-utilizing policies of the Nakasone administration and that were widely deployed by the 2000s under the Koizumi administration weakened the government’s income redistribution function while at the same time strengthening special zones, under so-called “selection and concentration” strategies of selective deregulation and competitive subsidies in areas with favorable market conditions. The outcome of this was the concentration of capital in large cities offering the best market conditions and a general decline in outlying regions. Also seen was a widening of spatial disparities within the large cities, and a regional polarization between developing and declining outlying regions.
How can urban and national land policies address the problem of widening social disparities; how is social justice to be achieved in our cities and within our national territory? The key is to create inclusive cities. From the perspective of social justice, an inclusive city is a city that eliminates social disparities and the spatial disparities that arise from them, and that has the tolerance to accept a diverse range of people. Based on this basic awareness of the issue, this book clarifies the reality of the increasingly serious spatial disparities occurring in our nations and cities, explains the factors that create such disparities, and points the way to transforming our urban centers into inclusive cities.

(Written by KIDOKORO Tetsuya, Professor, School of Engineering / 2022)

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