Town management in a Period of Urban Growth: A Modern Twist to the Traditional Japanese Jichi-kai Town Management Model Found in Azabu District of Minato Ward, Tokyo

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Submission Summary
Governments and real estate developers around the world have been implementing measures in attempts to ensure the continuation and preservation of local cultures, encourage public activities to be community-run, and promote bottom-up dispute resolution. Despite such efforts, rapid urban growth has oftentimes proven to be too powerful a force and even contradictory to a movement toward more community-based urban management. This paper targets the Azabu District in Minato City, where there are famous landmarks, such as the Tokyo Tower, as well as multiple large real estate developments by Japan’s largest real estate developers, many of which have been designated by the Japanese government as national strategic development zones. Out of the 155 embassies in Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2019), 45 are in Azabu district alone (Masai, 2012) and 82 in all of Minato ward, making the city one of the most international and political cities in terms of population demographics, facilities, and cultures. Much of the bottom-up, grassroots community efforts and the research thereof in Japan tend to focus on rural, depopulating areas or relatively suburban areas outside of the central areas of major cities. However, this research will focus on a densely populated town, hence taking on an unorthodox approach to Japanese community research. In recent years, jichi-kai, a type of Japanese organization works as a centralized organization of established organizations in a local community that currently has no legal positions and were used during WWII to mobilize people to war (1) has been adapted by private real estate companies as a tool for co-funding and improving the residential environment, dispute resolution, and organizing community activities. They have been studied in the fields of sociology, political science, public administration, and anthropology. For example, Bestor (1989) studied jichi-kai as “the social construction and maintenance of a neighborhood in a society where such communities are said to be outmoded,”(2) which shares with this paper an interest in maintaining neighborhood communities in the capricious modern society. This paper is based on such research, but differs in that it focuses on the effect that the increased involvement of private companies have had on jichi-kais and local communities in cities. This paper adapts the grounded theory approach using materials from interviews held with community leaders from 3 types of jichi-kais, local business owners, involved real estate companies, and local government officials in the Azabu District. Historical analysis on the relationships and organizations seen in the district has also been done concurrently. The paper identifies three models of jichi-kai that have evolved through the major changes of rapid urbanization through adaptation and still play a vital role in local community activities and public, formerly government duties throughout Japan. The three models show that communities in the target district have maintained their traditions by integrating private real estate companies into the operations of their town management organizations and/or have learned to work with such companies with the understanding that town management does not have to be a zero-sum game between “locals” and “outsiders.” Applbaum (1996), who provides an extensive literature on jichi-kai, states that it has been historically abiding yet the continuation thereof is problematic, a conclusion that have been made by many others. In contrast, this paper highlights not only issues of jichi-kai but also the potential that they have as solutions to community ecosystems in cities undergoing rapid urbanization. Though much of the research is based on the premise of a developing city in Japan, the models presented can be used as a guide for communities with differing cultural contexts.
Submission ID :
ISO202
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4: Resilience and adaptability. Al-Waha: promoting glocal solutions
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The University of Tokyo

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