The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka

By Jeffrey E. Hanes | Go to book overview

6
The Livable City

In the mid-1910s, Seki Hajime sketched the parameters of an urban plan conceived to bring sweeping social reform to Osaka. Speaking to a group of economists in Kobe, he noted that Osaka had been the fortunate beneficiary of a “grand [urban] plan” (endai no keikaku) in the seventeenth century but that its leadership had since allowed the “[outer] environs of the city” to lapse into “disorder. ” Then he threw down the gauntlet.

Seki noted that the Tokugawa leadership had effected a dramatic spatial overhaul of Osaka. Not only had they relocated the city's temples to a designated temple district (Teramachi) on the southern boundary, but they had designated the downtown districts of Senba and Shimanouchi as Osaka's commercial center and had “taken decisive action to plot [a network] of city streets. ” Compared to the “extreme disorder” of peripheral districts that had been incorporated into the city in 1897, he wryly observed, the old grid-planned city with its uniform blocks was a vision of “systematic zoning. ” As if to sweeten this bitter pill just a bit, Seki added that Tokyo was no different than Osaka in this critical respect. In both cases, he concluded, the modern urban dilemma owed to the unfortunate combination of haphazard development by greedy landlords wedded passionately to the principle of private property and toothless town planning administered autocratically by myopic state officials sequestered in Tokyo. 1

While Seki was concerned specifically with the Japanese version of this modern urban dilemma, he understood it as a variation on urban problems that affected all modern nations. Surveying these problems as they had been manifested in Europe and the United States, Seki concluded that modern European cities especially were subject to pressures similar to those that had hamstrung Japanese cities—pressures exerted simultaneously from within and without on local governments that were eager

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The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Twentieth-Century Japan: the Emergence of a World Power *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - Seki Hajime and Social Progressivism in Prewar Japan 1
  • 1 - A Portrait of the Economist as a Young Man 10
  • 2 - The People's National Economy 53
  • 3 - Class and Nation 97
  • 4 - Toward a Modern Moral Economy 127
  • 5 - A New Urbanism 169
  • 6 - The Livable City 210
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 335
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