2000 2.Management of Urban Fringe Problems /24th INTA World Congress

Management of Urban Fringe Problems

Hirohide Konami (Ph.D.)

Professor, Faculty of Regional Development Studies

Toyo University, Tokyo

This paper was presented at 24th INTA World Congress in Bergen, Norway, on June 21, 2000

1  Large Population Migration from Rural to Metropolitan Areas

The conflict of urban sprawl and the protection of natural environment in urban fringe is the common and global issue. Japan is not the exception and faced severe urbanization during the rapid economic growth in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s (Fig.1). Tokyo metropolitan area accepted nearly 400 thousand people in a year at the peak and this caused the lack of social infra-structures such as railways, subways, roads, green parks, elementary schools, water supply, electricity supply and so on. The background of this large population migration is explained as follows.

(1) Rural areas could not supply enough number of job opportunities to the mass of 

 young labor force produced by so-called “baby boom after World War II”.

    (2) Large investment on manufactures in metropolitan areas produced a lot of job

       opportunities for those fresh labor forces.

    (3) The gap of income level between rural and metropolitan areas naturally promoted

 the population migration.

 Table 1 shows the result of the population migration in Saitama Prefecture, which is located in just north of Tokyo and accepted the population inflow not only from Tokyo but also from northern and western territory of the country. This shows the great increase in population and the decrease in farmland. The comparison of the total population increase of about 4.3 million and the total decrease of farmland of about 70 thousand hector implicates that this area was developed by very low-density. The average density of Japanese urban development is 100~200 people per hector in multi-family development and 50~100 people in single-family development. As increased population will find their houses and apartments also in existing urban areas and forestry areas, the decrease of farmland is far beyond the population increase. This means the abatement of farmland was made not only by well-planned development but also by unplanned low-density urban sprawl. As a whole, about 60% of urban area in Saitama Prefecture is facing the lack of public facilities in 1995.

Table 1  Change of Population and Farmland in Saitama Prefecture

   Year 1960  65  70  75  80  85  90  95
Population 2,431 3,015 3,866 4,821 5,4205,8646,4056,759
  Pop. Area A  N.A. N.A 2,752 3,543 4,0694,4414,9085,253
  Pop. Area B  N.A N.A 1,115 1,279 1,3511,4231,4971,506
Farmland  161  152  136  121  113 106  98  92

1) Population is shown by thousand. 

2) Area A is the urbanization promotion area and B is the urbanization control area of the

City Planning Law. The law was not enacted in 1960 and 1965.

3) Farmland is shown by thousand hector.

4) The total city planning area in Saitama Prefecture is 235 thousand hector and

  urbanization promotion area is 68 thousand hector.

2  Counter Measures to Cope with the Urbanization of Metropolitan Areas

   Population migration from rural areas to metropolitan areas is inevitable in the process of economic development of a country and causes the blast of urbanization at the urban fringe. This is also promoted by the demand for the independent houses or apartments by new couples who like to live independently from their parents.

The counter measures to cope with above mentioned population migration and urbanization are categorized into three groups. One is the counter measure of national level to develop rural areas and to discourage the concentration of manufacturers in metropolitan areas. Second is that of regional level in metropolitan areas to control big projects and to restrict the new establishment of manufactures within built-up areas. Third is that of city level to control the urbanization and zoning. 

   One of the national level counter measures was introduced in 1964. This is called “Shin Sangyou Toshi”, in other words ” Development of Industrial Cities”, and designated 15 areas in countryside and 6 areas in out-skirt of metropolitan areas (Fig.2). These areas have been developed as the site of heavy industries and eased the pressure of migration. Main tools to develop the areas were to construct big ports, airports, highways, new towns and land reclamation. In 1972, another counter measure to promote the relocation of manufactures was introduced and divided the country into three areas such as manufacture promotion area, manufacture restricted area and free area. Main engine to implement this policy was taxation system and national loans. Third counter measure was introduced in 1988 to promote the development of local big cities. In these years, the second biggest Osaka metropolitan area and the third biggest Nagoya metropolitan area had stabilized their growth and only Tokyo metropolitan area was still growing and the main cause of population migration was not the job opportunity of manufactures but the various urban functions concentrated in Tokyo. Therefore, this act was focused on the development of urban functions in local big cities with the population of 200 to 500 thousands. The original idea was to develop the million cities such as Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka to compete with the Tokyo metropolitan areas. But probably by some political reasons, actual selection of big cities was aimed to the second biggest cities in each prefecture. The actual tool for this policy is the redevelopment and activation of those cities and concentrates the national subsidies to those cities in the field of city planning, highway construction, industrial development, and etc. But it takes long time to be grown up enough to compete with the Tokyo metropolitan area. 

   The counter measures of regional level in Tokyo metropolitan area are the development of new towns such as Tsukuba Academic City that receives the national research institutes relocated from Tokyo down town, and Tama and Chiba new towns those receive the population and urban functions added to Tokyo metropolitan area. The National Capital Region Development Plan was amended five times since 1958 and designated the area into 4 areas such as built-up area, suburban development area, suburban green protection area and urban development area. It is strictly restricted to establish new factories and colleges within the built-up area. As a result, colleges are established in suburban area and factories in urban development area or outside of the national capital region. Suburban green protection area is expected to be purchased by public bodies but facing the shortage of public finance.

   The counter measures of city level were mainly installed in the City Planning Law amended in 1968. One is the compartmentation of city planning area into urbanization promotion area and urbanization control area. Table 1 shows the good effect of this system. The population increase in Saitama Prefecture between 1970 and 1995 was about 2.5 million in urbanization promotion area and only 400 thousand in urbanization control area. Second is the introduction of the system of development permission. It is almost prohibited to develop the urbanization control area except the development for farming purposes or well-planned large-scale development. This has worked very well but the basic policy to concentrate urban investment into urbanization promotion area was devastated because of the strong pressure from politicians elected within urbanization control areas. In these days, as the farmers in urbanization control areas have gotten age without successors and have no more will to continue farming and as Japanese Law of Agriculture does not allow farming for not registered farmers, a lot of farming land in urbanization control area is barren and waiting for some development. As a whole, these systems of city planning law have worked very well but not enough to manage urban fringe problems such as low-density urban sprawl. There are two measures to encourage farmers to continue farming.  One is the real estate tax rate in control area as farmland which is almost 1~10% of that of urban development area. Another is the strict development permission within the urbanization control areas which will discourage the developers to invade to those areas.

3 Proposed Amendment of City Planning Law

   The amendment of City Planning Law was officially proposed by MOC in March, 2000.

The main proposals are as follows;

(1)  To put more importance on the city planning initiative of municipality governments than that of prefectural governments,

(2)  To prepare the master plan in each city planning area braced by the municipal master plans,

(3)  To apply the district plan of city planning which mainly control the land use in urban fringe and outside of city planning areas, 

(4)  To apply the development permission system to the development in outside of city planning areas, and

(5)  To mobilize the city planning experts to create more beautiful and sound urban environment.

The legal rights to authorize the city planning have been transferred largely from prefectural governments to municipal governments since April, 2000. This means the roles of municipalities have become more important than before. Each city and town, except those within metropolitan areas, should consider the necessity of the compartmentation of the city and town area into the urbanization promotion area and the urbanization control area. It is necessary to decide the zoning and urban facilities in urbanization promotion area. It is also recommended to decide the zoning and urban facility planning in urbanization control areas. If these city planning works well, the environment of urban fringe must become sound. 

The tools to control the urbanization are the introduction of the district plan of city planning, the strict management of development permission and the good maintenance of farming land and urban forests. It is also effective to introduce a district plan to limit the minimum size of each land lot and the usage of the building floor and to regulate the proportion of the building area and the floor space against the unit land area. If the usable portion of the land area is too small, the landowners and developers must be discouraged to develop the area.

The application of a part of city planning system beyond the city planning area will prevent the unplanned urban sprawl in urban fringe.

The amendment of city planning law of the year of 2000 will encourage the cities and towns if they study a lot and have a strong will to realize the desirable urban areas.

4  Towards the Coming Century

   Based on the Japanese experience, it is important to encourage the farmers to keep green at the urban fringe and to prepare strong incentive for them to do so by taxation system or the other measures. If it is not farming land and normal forest, landowners tend to develop the area as a new town and destroy the forest green because the forest is not so productive as farming land or a new town. In this case, it is necessary to purchase these forests by public bodies or at least to designate the area as urban park or urban green in order to prohibit any construction work over there. It is widely recognized that the strong public implementation is only possible under the good understanding of citizens. Therefore, it is necessary to make up a good city plan to appeal the citizens to support the policy to keep green at the urban fringe and to introduce some measures to encourage the landowners of those lands to keep the good urban environment.

   It is also important in developing countries to introduce some national policy to ease the migration of the people from rural to metropolitan areas by the development of countryside. It has become possible to implement above mentioned policies in Japan only because of the 

stabilized population migration in the country.

Fig1:  Surplus of population migration in Tokyo metropolitan area

(Sorry, I cannot paste Fig.1 here by my technical trouble)

Figure 2  Designated 21 Areas for Industrial Development in 1964