Section 4  Land Use Changes and Issues in Metropolitan and Local Areas

1.  Metropolitan Areas such as the Tokyo Area and the Osaka Area

In metropolitan areas, office functions have traditionally concentrated in the central districts. Outside of these central districts, there has been an expansion of built-up areas marked by residential land use.

However, these days we observe many land use changes, with land originally used for manufacturing and logistic facilities (which has since become vacant through industrial restructuring), and land disposed of by corporations, being converted into multifunctional urban floorspace and inner city condominium apartments.

Accompanying changes in socio economic circumstances, land use in Japan's metropolitan areas has been changing qualitatively compared to the past. These trends bring up important issues about how to promote the dynamic restructuring of urban systems and the revitalization of urban areas while balancing business and residential functions and coping with cross border competition among cities.

From the viewpoint of economic revitalization, it is also necessary to attract private investment into projects which enhance the value of land use.

(1)  Approaches to Urban Renewal

It is necessary to promote land use in ways that improve the quality of city life. This can be achieved by developing urban floorspace that is equipped for multifunctional roles, realizes inner city residential options and enhances disaster prevention (through revised land use and the utilization of unused and under-utilized land).

a)   The Development of Urban Floorspace (Urban Land for High Density Development) and Coping with Cross Border Competition

In central districts, there are increasing numbers of highly functional office buildings and conversions to urban floorspace equipped with commercial, residential and cultural facilities. This has been achieved through urban redevelopment -- the conversion of unused and under-utilized land that had been originally used for manufacturing or logistic facilities.

Chart 1-4-1  Recent Cases of Urban Floorspace Development in City Centers

Location Major Developed
Buildings, etc
Major Facilities Original Land Use Completion at Area
Chiyoda ward
(near Tokyo
Tokyo Sankei Building Office, Retail and Hall Office, Retail and Parking First phase :
September 2000
Second phase :
September 2002
Pacific Century Place Office and Retail Office, Retail and Parking November, 2001 0.63ha
Marunouchi Building Office, Retail and Hall Office, Retail and Parking August, 2002 1ha
Eiraku Building Office, Retail and Open space Office, Retail and Parking February, 2003
Jimbo Cho, Chiyoda ward South District of Jimbo Cho 1 Chome Residential, Workshop, Office, Retail, etc. Office, Retail etc. March, 2003
Harumi, Chuo ward Triton Square Office and Residential Reclaimed land September, 2001 8.4ha
Atago, Minato ward Atago Green Hills Office, Residential, Retail and factory Office, Residential, Retail etc. October, 2001 3.8ha
Moto Azabu, Minato ward Moto-azabu Hills Residential Office, Residential, Retail etc. December, 2002 1.2ha
Shiodome, Minato ward A to I districts of
Shiodome Regional
Redevelopment Plan
Office, Retail and Parking Reclaimed land, Office, Retail etc. 2002 - 2004 30.7ha
Roppongi, Minato ward Development at Roppongi 6 Chome Office, Hotel, Retail, Theater, Art Museum, Broadcast Cetner and Residential Office, Retail, Residential and Broadcast Center 2003 (plan) 11.0ha
Shinagawa ward,
Minato ward
(near Shinagawa Station)
Shinagawa Inter City Office, Retail and Multifunction Hall Railway yards December, 1998 4.0ha
Gate City Osaki Office, Retail, Residential, Factory etc. factory, Apartments, etc. February, 1999 5.9ha
Shinagawa Grand Commons Office, Hotel and Residential Office, Retail, Factory, etc. March, 2002 5.2ha
Higashi Gotanda,
Shinagawa ward
The 1st District of
Higashi Gotanda 2 Chome
Office, Retail and Residential factory, etc. March, 2001 1.9ha
Aomono Yokocho,
Shinagawa ward
Shinagawa Seaside Forest Office, Retail and Residential factory, etc. September, 2002 - 2003 7.2ha
Shinjuku ward
(near Shinjuku Station)
Tokyo Opera City Theater, Office and Retail Industrial Research Center March, 1999 4.4ha
Shibuya ward
(near Shibuya Station)
Ebisu Garden Place Office, Retail, Hotel, Residential, Hall and Art Museum factory March, 1996 8.3ha
Shibuya ward
(near Shibuya Station)
Shibuya Mark City Office, Retail and Hotel Railway facility, etc. April, 2000 1.4ha

Cases have been observed where a decline in land prices in nearby areas either stopped, or prices started to increase, as a result of improved land use value through property redevelopment and/or the development of traffic infrastructure.

Chart 1-4-2  The Influence on Land Prices of Urban Redevelopment Projects


Source:"Published Land Prices" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Note:In the graph, published land prices nearest to the location of the urban floorspace are used

Chart 1-4-3  Influences on Land Prices from Traffic Infrastructure Development (Nanboku Line and Oedo Line by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government)

Source:"Published Land Prices" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

On the one hand, highly functional office buildings are offered through the development of urban floorspace. On the other hand, the proportion of property owners who worry about the declining competitiveness of their properties is high, even in the central business districts. These worried landlords include many who own medium and small size buildings developed during the economic bubble.

Chart 1-4-4  Competitiveness of Office Buildings in the Future


Source:"Survey of Views concerning the Operation and Maintenance of Office Buildings in the Center of Tokyo" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Note:The survey was directed at owners of office buildings with total office space of less than 3,000 sqm and which were completed between 1980 and 1994. Conducted in February 2002

With respect to vacancy rates and levels of rent, 90% of owners consider that "Polarization" (the evolution of strong distinctions between attractive buildings versus non-attractive buildings) will increase based on building size, equipment and the age of the building.

Chart 1-4-5  Prospects for Increased "Polarization"


Source:"Survey of Views Concerning the Operation and Maintenance of Office Buildings in the Center of Tokyo" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

For these buildings, the proportion of answers highlighting narrow "one floor space" properties is high. Because it increases the scope for polarization, this will become an issue in the future, and will help promote the conversion of buildings (and surrounding land) to residential property, and their further development for residential use.

Chart 1-4-6  Issues Concerning Buildings Overall (multiple answers)


Source:"Survey of Views Concerning the Operation and Maintenance of Office Buildings in the Center of Tokyo" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

(2)  Approaches for Improving the Quality of Urban Life

(a) Establishing Residences in the City Center
These days, in the urban centers of Japan's large cities these days, condominium apartments are being actively developed based on the conversion of land disposed of by corporations and others. This trend has also been accelerated by a population move back to the city centers which, in turn, has been driven by a tendency to attach importance to the convenience of their residential location.

In particular, we observe many cases where condominium apartments are developed through the reconstruction of office buildings in the central business district. It is therefore necessary to promote central city living by recognising these changes in land use, and by realizing improvements in the quality of urban life.

Chart 1-4-7  Trends in the Sale of Condominium Apartments (Nihonbashi District, Chuo Ward, Tokyo)

Source:Prepared from "Condominium Apartment Market Trends" by Real Estate Economic Institute Co., Ltd.

Chart 1-4-8  The Original Land Use of Condominium Apartment Sites in Nihonbashi District, Chuo Ward, Tokyo


Source:Survey by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Note:data on 45 condominium apartment buildings sold in this district between 1998 and 2001

b) The Promotion of Urban Environmental Improvement
In circumstances where land use in the large cities is changing structurally, it is important to promote at the appropriate time the expansion of public areas such as parks and green spaces which have fallen behind in the past. Also, from the viewpoint of improving disaster prevention, it is necessary to encourage the development of disaster prevention facilities by making use of vacant land in the center of cities that was originally used for factories and other purposes.

c) Issues and Measures Relating to Residential Land in the Suburbs
The nature of residential land-use in the suburbs, including new towns, will also change in the future. In these areas, it is necessary to add a twist, depending on geographic conditions, to achieve different characteristics compared to residential developments in the center city. This can be achieved by developing distinctive townscapes that are different and not uniform, and by offering residential properties that assume use as a second home, as a weekend residence and/or home office.

It is also important to introduce "software" measures that help develop the town continuously, such as activating regional communities through NPO activities and so on.

<Case Study: "Hardware" Measures: Resident-participation Style of Residential Property Development>
In the "Oyumino" district (Midori-ku, Chiba City) which comes under the Chiba Regional Office of the Urban Development Corporation, a group of expectant residents is preparing a town plan, including the location of streets and open spaces. This is done through the holding workshops at the development site. The Chiba Regional Office is actually implementing the residential property development based on this town plan.

<Case Study: "Software Measures": Community Activities in Tama New Town>
In Tama New Town, community based NPOs and volunteer groups promote new approaches for activating the community. An NPO called "Fusion Nagaike" conducts activities that foster the community through the operation and maintenance of park facilities, support for the local housing estate association and recycling activities in the district. Also up and running are NPOs and community volunteer groups pursuing specific objectives -- such as environmental conservation and the circulation of local currency (e.g. eco-money) that is only tradable in a limited geographic area.

2.  Local Cities

In the central built up areas of local cities serious problems have emerged. These problems include an increase in the number of vacant shops, a decline in the number of residences and the high occurrence of unused or under-utilized land. As to suitable approaches for revitalizing these local cities, it is important to develop identities for them. This can be done through "soft-measures" that reactivate vacant shops, utilize local industry, and revive tourism by making use of the history and culture of the areas concerned.

Chart 1-4-9  Projects for the Revitalization of Central Built-up Areas (multiple answer)


Source:prepared from "Comprehensive Survey about Promotion of Town Development in fiscal year 2001" by Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Note 1:"Promotion of Action on Environmental Issues" includes work relating to landscaping, greenery and recycling activities
Note 2:"Utilization of IT" includes virtual shopping malls, the transmission of information using mobile phones and computerized customer management

<Case Study: Utilizing Local Historical and Cultural Assets (Moji district, Kitakyushu City)>

In the Moji district of Kitakyushu City, "Moji Port Retro Square" was developed and promoted through the preservation of historical buildings such as the former Moji Port Station, the old Moji Custom House and the Osaka Shosen Building. As a result, the number of sightseers visiting Moji rapidly increased after its opening in 1995. Land prices in the surrounding areas of this new shopping district rose as a result of this development.

Chart 1-4-10  Land Price Trends in Moji and Average Prices in Japan

Source:"Prefectural Land Price Survey" by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

<Case Study: Local Entities' Participation in Town Planning (Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture)>

In Matsue City (Shimane Prefecture) the former Matsue Branch of the Bank of Japan was renovated to convert it to a commercial facility dealing mainly with local products and original-product commercial goods. Out of the 16 shops that moved in, two were operated by new entrepreneurs and six were operated by persons experienced in "challenge shops" (i.e. activating vacant shops). The building is a place for active new entrepreneurs.

Lively town activities are also promoted with the volunteer participation of citizens, such as the lighting up of historical buildings, and open air film showings using the white walls of traditional warehouse buildings.

For local cities also, it is important to measure their urban restructuring in the context of urban areas as a whole. In this regard, they need to pay attention to compact town planning which transfers urban functions from dispersed suburban locations to the center.

<Case Study: Efforts by Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture>

In the Aomori City Urban-planning Master Plan three areas are designated for development - the "Inner-City" (including the central built up areas), the surrounding "Mid-City" and the "Outer-City" areas. Utilizing existing socio economic infrastructure in the central built up areas, it is planned to colocate in the "Inner-City" core multi functions such as commercial, administrative and residential facilities that benefit from proximity to the center.

On the other hand, in the "Mid-City" and "Outer-City" areas, the basic strategy is that the systematic and orderly development of built up areas is to be confined. In the "Outer-City" zone, in particular, pursues a policy that agricultural land and the surrounding natural environment is to be preserved and, basically, that the expansion of built up areas is to be restrained. The city administration plans to complete the Master Plan, and to translate it into reality through cooperation amongst the City's citizens, corporations and the administration.

3.  Land Use Approaches that Aim to Establish Local Characteristics

In each area it is necessary to monitor the various types of land use such as the progress of smaller size developments, the general maintenance of forests which from the beginning have played an important role in the preservation of land and the prevention of global warming.

Chart 1-4-11  Land Use Issues in City, Town and Village Locations (multiple answer)
Source:Survey by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

In these circumstances, it is necessary to prepare a framework for land use which takes account of local citizens' affairs at the city, town and village levels, in which the "ideal profile of land use" is shown in detail for each location, and accords with the current status of each area.

It is also expected that we will aim to develop regional areas with adequate and rational land-use profiles that preserve their local identity, at the same time making full use of local government ordinances that address the various and specific issues in each area.

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