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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evolution of urban land policy in postwar Japan Kobayashi, Yuji Jinnouchi


Japan achieved miraculous, rapid economic growth after World War II to become the second ranked major economic power in the world. However, general housing conditions and the standard of living in large cities have not improved as expected. Japanese housing has been referred to as "rabbit hutches" by the O.E.CO. Extremely steep inflation in the price of land, to an extent that is unprecedented in other developed nations, has largely contributed to this sorry state. This paper analyzes land policies and land use controls enacted in postwar Japan, examines the trends in land price hikes after the war, and evaluates the social impact of recent inflation in the price of urban land. Chapter I describes the purpose and rationale of this study. Chapter n analyzes the land policies and land use controls that have failed to control land prices and facilitate the effective use of land. There are four fundamental reasons for this failure! the absolute trust of policy makers in virtually unregulated market capitalism in urban land; a national land planning process designed to support accelerated economic development; the Liberal Democratic Party's policy of protecting landowners; and the so-called "Iand-standard economy." Chapter EI examines the trend toward land price hikes after the war. There have been three phases. The first phase (beginning around 1960) began with price increases for industrial districts. The second phase (in the early 1970s) witnessed significant land price increases not only in large cities, but also in other parts of the country. The third phase (since the mid-1980s) featured a sudden and dramatic jump in land prices in central Tokyo and adjacent areas of the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan. Chapter IV evaluates the social impact of recent land price hikes centered in and around Tokyo. Social overhead capital programs have been delayed largely due to land price hikes. The physical characteristics and social fabric of residential areas have both been changing drastically and suddenly in the Tokyo area. The hikes in land prices have even resulted in the closing of embassies of developing countries in Tokyo. Chapter V summarizes and concludes this study.

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