- Japan Association for Urban Sociology
- 日本都市社会学会年報 (ISSN:13414585)
- vol.2017, no.35, pp.5-22, 2017-09-05 (Released:2018-09-05)
Why and how has Tokyo experienced a huge increase in the number of high-rise buildings, called “tower-block gentrification” by P. Waley, in a relatively short period? This article analyzes the historical process of the city's vertical expansion since the 1980s, by showing four step-by-step stages of speculation on real estate. During the 1980s, that is, “economic bubble” era, Tokyo witnessed a sudden big wave of redevelopment (Step 1). Inner-city working community with old factories and warehouses were invaded and destroyed by capital. Yet, after the burst of the bubble in the early 90s, a sharp downturn of land price hit real estate market. Alternately, local governments entered into high-rise construction, pushed by “crisis-driven” deregulation and neoliberal private-public partnership policy (Step 2). And then, a turning point was marked in the history of Tokyo's building construction. During the first decade of the new century twice number of high-rise buildings were finished as in 1990-99. Such a change was accelerated by the mixture of financialization of real estate market, state-led neoliberal policy, and making of ʻlivable city' image fitting to differentially gentrified high-rise buildings (Step 3). Global financial crisis in 2007-8 hit local market, resulting in the failure of nearly all independent agents for realestate financialization. In the 2010s, high-rise construction began to increase again after a break, pushed by back-to-city migration, state-led “special zone” policy, and the boom of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. But the market structure has changed, becoming more oligopolistic (Step 4). Four top real estate company groups occupied more than a third of newly established high-rise buildings. It is unclear whether such a process of transformation might be unique to Japanese cities or not. Tokyo has to survive with a huge number of tower-block constructions.