Technology and Urban Society

List of Articles

Methodological introduction to the history of the city of Tokyo

Author: Ishizuka, Hiromichi
Series: Japanese Experience of the UNU Human and Social Development Programme series ; 2
Published Year: 1981
Main Text (PDF version)

Introduction 1

I. Japanese Studies on Modern Urban History, Particularly Tokyo 2

II. Edo/Tokyo in the Late Tokugawa and Meiji Restoration Period 6

III. The Rebuilding of Tokyo on the Model of Western Cities 11

IV. Capitalism and Urban Problems in the History of Tokyo 19

Notes 26


As part of the United Nations University's Human and Social Development Programme research project on "Technology Transfer, Transformation and Development: The Japanese Experience," this paper takes up the theme "Technology and Urban Society." Specifically it focuses on the history of cities, on Tokyo in particular, and on the introduction of "foreign technology" and its social impact.
The Meiji Restoration of 1868 was a turning point in Japanese history; Japan rejected the feudalistic social structure established under the Tokugawa regime, unifying the people and asserting national autonomy in the face of the threat of semi-colonization by the advanced Western powers. At the same time, the Meiji state became the only "independent" state in East Asia by promoting a policy to "enrich the nation and strengthen its arms" (fukoku kyohei) which in practical terms meant adoption of capitalism and expansion of its military forces.
Formerly the greatest castle town in the country, Edo was made the new national capital, replacing Kyoto. Its name was changed to Tokyo. Previously the focal point of bakufu power, the city became the pivot of the formation of the new Meiji state. While shackled by the entrenched structure of the traditional city and its inherent social contradictions (which I shall discuss here as "urban problems"), Tokyo strove both to respond to the needs of the state in its attempt to fend off subjugation by the Western powers and to recreate itself on the Western model through city renewal projects, using foreign technology.
From the early Meiji period, two factors served to aggravate urban problems in Tokyo. One was the transplantation of the technology of urban renewal "from the top down," without prior consideration of its applicability to existing conditions. The other was the rapid concentration and accumulation of both capital and population in Tokyo along with the establishment of industrial capitalism which accelerated the process of transplantation.
With these generalizations in mind, I will examine the nature of existing historical studies and propose a methodological framework for interpreting studies on the history of the modern city, particularly on the history of Tokyo. In this study, in accordance with the larger research topic, my focus is on a macroscopic theoretical framework. Detailed analyses of particular problems will be left for further study.

I. Japanese Studies on Modern Urban History, Particularly Tokyo

In recent years, studies of the so-called feudal city have proliferated. This research, focusing on medieval as well as early modern cities like Edo and Osaka, includes a variety of works on such subjects as manufacture capital, the organization of trade guilds (kabunakama), and popular uprisings (uchikowashi).1 It ranges over themes such as the structure of the lower strata of urban society, popular lifestyles and culture, conditions of landownership among townspeople, and methods of bakufu control over cities.2
As for historical analysis of the so-called modern city, on the other hand, the study of Tokyo clearly does not measure up to the books and periodicals published on other major cities such as Osaka and Yokohama.3
Three periods in history have stimulated concentrated interest in the study of Edo.4 The first began about the time of the promulgation of the Imperial Constitution (1889) and extended through the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). Former vassals of the shogun compiled the Edo kaiko [Edo remembered]5 and work on the Tokyo-shi shiko [Historical documents of Tokyo city] was begun in 1906, edited by Teishun Tsuka-koshi of the Min'yusha (Democratic Friends Society), and modeled after the government historical compendium, Dai Nippon shiryo [Historical materials and documents of Japan]. These efforts marked the beginning of the compilation of historical documents on Edo.
The second period coincides with the age of "Taisho Democracy" in the Taisho era (1912-25). The destruction of the city in the Great Kanto Earthquake and Fire of 1923 prompted renewed interest in both the now-destroyed Tokyo of the Meiji period and its feudal predecessor, Edo. Studies of the city on a scholarly level finally began through the work of organizations like the Nihon Rekishi Chiri Gakkai (Japan Society of Historical Geography). Following the appointment of Shinpei Goto (1857-1929) as mayor of Tokyo City in 1920 and Minister of the Interior and president of the Imperial Capital Reconstruction Board after the Great Kanto Earthquake, compilation work on Tokyo-shi shiko progressed considerably, keeping pace with the reconstruction of the "Imperial Capital."
The third period came about as a result of the destruction of Tokyo by bombing during the Pacific War and its reconstruction after the war. In this period, research on local history based on local documents became popular; studies of feudal cities began to benefit by deeper "problem consciousness"; and numerous local governments undertook the compilation and publication of their histories of wards, cities, towns or villages. Research on the city of Edo, likewise, made great strides in this period, as stated above.
Now, let us look more closely at the course of research on the history of Tokyo. First of all, it should be noted that the 127 volumes (as of 1978) of the Tokyo-shi shiko published from the time of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) down to the present represent an enormous effort in the collection and documentation of historical materials. Intended to be a compilation of "The Early Modern and Modern History of Tokyo," this work is divided into 11 sections, including one on the imperial palace, with all historical materials arranged in chronological order.6 However, nearly eighty percent of the 127 volumes already published are devoted to Edo-related materials. Despite the great historical value of the materials, the thematic division of this work and the relative paucity of the portions on modern Tokyo present problems for the development of research in this field.7
Historical study of Tokyo advanced again during the era of Taisho Democracy, as part of the effort to analyze and solve the urban problems that were growing very serious. It was also prompted by the movement for universal suffrage and democratization of municipal government, behind which was an upsurge in "civil" consciousness. In the activities of the Tokyo Municipal Government Research Council, established in 1922 by Mayor Shinpei Goto, research on the history of cities and of modern Tokyo received particular attention.
Thus, well before World War II the Research Council had grappled with urban problems peculiar to Japan and to Tokyo, achieving a high level of scholarship even by present-day standards.8 However, a full-scale historical analysis of the city of Tokyo based on these activities was never attempted, for historians then lacked a systematic methodology for the historical study of modern cities such as Tokyo.
After World War II, save for a few pioneering works in urban studies,9 the focus in modern Japanese history and socio-economic history shifted to rural history. This was largely due to the orientation of Japanese historians inherited from the prewar debates on capitalism and influenced by the comparative methods of Western economic history encouraged by the policy of democratization under the occupation of Japan by the Allied powers. Historians sought to identify in the "development of capitalistic relations" in the rural villages of the Bakumatsu and Meiji Restoration period the nucleus and agency of social change. Eventually, however, historical analysis of the premodern village came to a standstill, as attention shifted toward study of commodity distribution and by extension to the history of cities. Particularly with the "rapid growth" period in the Japanese economy beginning in the 1960s, reflecting new interest in urban problems aggravated by excessive concentration of the population in cities, historical study on cities and urban development gradually deepened, incorporating research findings as achievements in related fields in the social sciences.
This shift was manifested in the cooperative research activities of the Association for Historical Study of Tokyo, and in the extensive surveys of local historians, as well as in the publication of ward, city, town and village histories by local and municipal governments, the six-volume Tokyo hyakunen shi [One hundred years of Tokyo] (Tokyo Metropolitan Government, 1972-73) and in the books of general interest on Tokyo compiled by publishing houses and newspaper companies. Taken together, these represent the most important research on Tokyo history to date. However, save for a few exceptions, most of the works on ward, city, town and village history are confined to accounts of the institutions, agencies and policies of the respective local governments. In the case of the Tokyo hyakunen shi, although the assistance of many historians was enlisted for its compilation, their writings were not unified under a common methodology for each volume, and this makes it difficult to identify any clear historical image of Tokyo's past. As for the general-interest books by publishing houses, they were originally intended for popular consumption, and cannot be relied on as scholarly resources.
Recently, however, historical studies on industry,1O wage labor,11 popular movements,12 city planning and urban problems13 have begun to appear, parts of all of which are devoted to historical analysis of the subject with relation to Tokyo. While these works are simply attempts to gain an understanding of Tokyo's history from limited perspectives, the accumulated results of this kind of research will make possible a larger effort in the future to construct a clear historical image of the city of Tokyo.

II. Edo/Tokyo in the Late Tokugawa and Meiji Restoration Period

The historical development of Tokyo over the past century may be divided into three periods of change marked by the major events of the Boshin civil wars (1868-69) which followed the establishment of the Meiji government, the destruction of the metropolitan area in the great earthquake of 1923, and the desolation of the city by bombing during the Pacific War (1941-45). The lines between these three periods thus are drawn by civil war, natural disaster, and war.
During the first period, extending from the Meiji Restoration to the Great Kanto Earthquake, Tokyo essentially maintained the same metropolitan area as old Edo, yet its character changed because of the emergence of a capitalistic society. In order to discuss its characteristics during this initial stage, it is necessary to begin with a description of the city after the middle of the nineteenth century, particularly at the crucial turning point when Tokyo, formerly Edo, became the national capital following the Meiji Restoration.
As many historians have observed, Japan faced the serious threat of semi-colonization by the advanced capitalistic countries, particularly England and France, following the opening of its ports toward the end of the Tokugawa period. The crisis took many forms: the establishment of foreign concessions in Yokohama, Edo and other locations, especially the stationing of foreign military forces in Yokohama; the scheme to assure the "absolutization" of the Tokugawa regime through aid from France; the increased foreign debts of the bakufu regime and the domains for the import of firearms; and the intervention of European powers who sought to acquire rights and interests in Japanese railroads and mines.14
Critical to any understanding of the foreign pressures faced by Edo/Tokyo in this period is the relation of the city to the foreign concessions-particularly that in Yokohama, then Japan's most important port of international trade-and the way these concessions were formed.15 The "concessions," also known as "settlements," were areas located in specified areas (parts of opened cities or ports) within Japan officially granted to the foreign powers for dwelling or other uses under agreements signed at the end of Tokugawa period.16 In these concessions, Japan was forced to concede rights of administration and police control to the foreign powers. In.Yokohama, the British and French stationed armies in their concessions on the pretext that they were necessary to protect their settlers. Early historical studies of the Meiji Restoration interpreted these facts as indications of the threat of semi-colonization by the advanced capitalistic countries.l7
The Tsukiji concession in downtown Edo/Tokyo, on the other hand, was smaller in area and number of settlers, only one tenth or one fifteenth that of the Yokohama concession which included the whole area of the Yamate district. In addition, though authorized as a trade market by the new Meiji government, Tsukiji was only an "inner port" associated with the real center of Japan's trade with foreign countries at Yokohama. The Tsukiji concession functioned as a point of transit for 70 percent of the imports and exports loaded and unloaded at the Yokohama port. Moreover, most of the foreigners living in Tsukiji were missionaries, engineers, officials, doctors and craftsmen, and tradesmen were relatively few in number. As a result of this, the Tsukiji settlement was much more political, cultural and religious in character.18
This difference was intentional on the part of the new government. In other words, while it grudgingly approved the opening of Tokyo's market in order that foreigners could freely use the Edo port for trade and settlement, the government rejected the opening of Tokyo's port (which would have made Tokyo a commercial and trading city). The Meiji government adopted this policy for two purposes: one was to use Yokohama as a "breakwater" to prevent the European powers and the United States from violating Japanese sovereignty in Tokyo; the other was to set Tokyo apart as Japan's national capital, despite the establishment of the Tsukiji settlement.
Although the Meiji government's professed goal was to preserve national independence and unify the people, the concession system remained a symbol of the imminent possibility of colonization that threatened Japan for nearly half a century from the opening of the ports until 1899 when it was finally abolished together with extraterritoriality.
The existence of an "alien territory" like the Tsukiji settlement within Japan meant that Tokyo, along with Yokohama, irrevocably shared the characteristics of "semi-colonized" cities like Shanghai and other cities in Asia.19
The declaration by the new Meiji government in 1868 to foreign representatives that Japan would not open the Tokyo port was closely associated with the government's goal to establish Tokyo as the national capital. This plan involved a close link with Yokohama to form the pivot of political and commercial activity of the new unified state in place of Osaka, which had been the center of commerce under the feudal regime.
The Tokugawa shogunate had already begun efforts to reorient markets across the country to Edo by establishing local economic spheres and regulations on the distribution of commodities. With the Meiji Restoration, the new government imposed military rule over Edo/Tokyo and took over the mechanisms of commodity distribution over which the bakufu had attempted to establish a monopoly. By this means, the Meiji government undertook to unify all the country's markets, including Yokohama. The trend toward unification of national markets brought about considerable controversy over the transfer of the capital: some argued the case for Osaka, others for capitals at both Kyoto and Edo, and some for Edo alone. Ultimately the new government chose the latter alternative.20 Tokyo gradually increased in importance, while Osaka was gradually forced to surrender its place as the pivot of economic activity.
The first government-built railway was opened between Shinbashi and Yokohama stations (today, Shiodome and Sakuragicho stations) in 1872, linking the open port which was Japan's window on the world to the "front door" to Japan's capital city. (The Tsukiji settlement and the main street of Ginza, soon to be lined with Western-style brick buildings, were located near Shinbashi.) This line, symbolizing the new wave of "civilization and enlightenment," was originally intended to carry passengers only.21 However, the volume of railroad traffic tended to increase from the 1880s when the national railroad (the present Tokaido line) was extended and private railroad lines, including the Nippon and Kobu lines, were built in and around the suburbs of Tokyo. The railroads played a particularly vital role in promoting the export of raw silk, Japan's most important export item, for they radiated out from Tokyo toward production centers in the western Kanto region and Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures, linking them to Tokyo and Yokohama to form a new "silk road."22
As a result of the expansion of the railway network in the Kanto and Chubu regions, Tokyo became economically subordinate to Yokohama in the first half of the Meiji period. Tokyo's port was originally intended for domestic trade; although Tokyo later engaged in foreign trade, Yokohama succeeded in having international trade through Tokyo harbor restricted to that with East Asian countries.23
Later, the Tsukiji settlement was abolished, and Tokyo passed from a state of semi-colonization to the completely autonomous capital of Japan. It was only with the establishment of industrial capital in Tokyo that the city began to exert greater influence over politics, the economy and society by virtue of the accumulation of capital, ultimately overtaking Yokohama in economic importance.

III. The Rebuilding of Tokyo on the Model of Western Cities

Under pressure from the advanced capitalistic countries and under the threat of national crisis, one of the immediate tasks faced by the Meiji government was to assure the autonomy of the state and the unification of the people, thereby warding off foreign domination. The method adopted to cope with this task was transformation of the Meiji state itself into a capitalistic country on the model provided by England, then the leader of the Western powers. The economic policies formulated to achieve this aim were collectively known as the "enrich the nation and strengthen its arms" and the "increase production and promote industry" (shokusan kogyo) policies.24
Founded in 1868 as the capital, the political hub, of a centralized state, Tokyo needed a physical character that represented the policies of a government which ruled from "above." For that purpose, Tokyo began as a city intended to symbolize the increased wealth and military strength of the nation. The reconstruction projects which went on throughout the Meiji period, especially of its downtown area, based on the model of cities in the West, reflect the role it was to play in the nation-building process. The plan for the reconstruction of Tokyo and its implementation began with the redesign of city blocks and the construction of brick buildings along the Ginza in 1872, after the model of London.25
Policies for fire prevention in residential areas made up of densely built wooden structures, by construction with non-flammable materials such as stone and brick, as well as plans for multi-storied buildings, had already been devised for Edo by scholars of Western studies in the early nineteenth century.26 After the Meiji Restoration, the leaders of the new government undertook the complete reconstruction work of the downtown areas to transform Edo into a "modern city."
The new government's most urgent and important task was to give Tokyo a dignified appearance befitting the "imperial capital" in preparation for the negotiations for revision of the unequal treaties with the Western powers to begin in May 1872. A disastrous fire which broke out in the Ginza, Kyobashi and Tsukiji areas (burning 924,000 square meters, destroying 3,000 houses and affecting 50,000 people) provided the immediate need to reconstruct those areas,27 and the building began with a proclamation by the Tokyo prefectural government in April 1872.
At first, the construction work was under the charge of the Ministry of Finance and Tokyo prefecture; later it was taken over by the Ministry of Construction. However, as will be explained below, the project eventually foundered in the face of opposition and resistance of local citizens and the failure to collect bills for construction. At the same time, the original plan to rebuild the entire downtown area in emulation of a Western-style, fire-resistant city was abandoned.28
From that point on, reconstruction work progressed unsystematically, without any semblance of unity or consistency, in three directions: fire prevention measures through building regulations; a plan for construction of government office buildings in Hibiya; and city replanning projects.
The next step in urban reconstruction work (after the construction of brick buildings on the main street of Ginza) was the plan to build central government office buildings on the site of the former Hibiya drill ground. Planning for this project was carried out mainly by the construction bureau, provisionally established in 1886.
The period around the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution in 1889 was characterized by the so-called Rokumeikan diplomacy* and Westernization espoused by Kaoru Inoue, Foreign Minister. Preparatory work began on a large-scale Western-style government office district in the Hibiya area planned and carried out with the assistance of German technology. German engineers prepared a grand design in which the courthouse, the metropolitan police headquarters, the Rokumeikan, an exposition site, the Diet Building and the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice buildings were to be built along both sides of a main street extending from "Central Station" to the "New Imperial Palace." The plan represented the designer's attempt to transplant to Tokyo the authentic Neo-Baroque-style architecture then popular in Europe.29

* referring to the policy symbolized by the "Deer Pavilion" where Japanese emulated Western styles of social behavior and dress and mixed freely with foreigners.

However, a survey of the site revealed that the geological features of the Hibiya drill ground made it unsuitable for large-scale Western-style architecture. Thus, the actual construction work was carried out under the superintendence of Japanese engineers, and the building materials were changed to wood. Ultimately, only a temporary Diet Building, the Ministry of Justice building, and the courthouse were constructed on this site. Because the plan had to be restricted to only part of the Hibiya area and the designs vastly reduced in scale, its impact on subsequent reconstruction work in downtown Tokyo was relatively slight.
The city replanning which went on for about thirty years from around the time of the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution, taking as its model the urban redevelopment of Paris, was essentially a project of the central government to refurbish the city for its role as "imperial capital." This aspect of urban reconstruction was, however, of more direct relevance to city residents than the building projects mentioned above.30 Authorized by an official Ordinance on the City Replanning of Tokyo issued in March 1888 and under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior, the work consisted of the thoroughgoing improvement of city facilities, including roads, rivers and waterways, bridges, parks, railways, marketplaces, crematoriums and cemeteries. The improvement of the water supply system, in particular, was given the status of "special project." Of the total expenditures for the entire period of construction, the proportion set aside for roads was over 50 percent, and that for construction and expansion of waterworks was 20 percent. Especially in the four years (1896-99) following the Sino-Japanese War, large amounts of funds were concentrated on improvement of waterworks. Road construction and maintenance had reached an impasse, and it is clear that during this period, the emphasis in the replanning work shifted to the waterworks system.
Among the reasons for the sense of urgency felt by the city authorities vis-a-vis waterworks improvement was the periodic and sudden outbreak of water-borne infectious diseases such as cholera.31 Additional pressure was exerted by foreign residents demanding construction of modern water facilities.
Led by the Tokyo City Replanning Committee, the waterworks improvement program was launched in 1888 with the introduction of Dutch technology of river improvement and civil engineering. The work was frequently obstructed, however, by the strong resistance of local citizens to the increased financial burden and a movement opposing the expropriation of land for public use. It was also delayed by the so-called "waterworks scandal" of 1895-96.32
Thus, the waterworks improvements finally completed in 1899 were symbolic of how much change and distortion the original city reconstruction plan had undergone as a result of the conditions of underdevelopment in Japan at that time.
Three common features emerge from the three major projects in city rebuilding we have discussed above, namely the construction of brick buildings on the Ginza, the plan for the Hibiya government office district, and the urban improvement program.
First, urban rehabilitation activities in Tokyo were driven by a powerful urge to create a city on a par with Western cities like London or Paris. As recorded in one source on the brick buildings of the Ginza street, "Stone houses were modeled on those of London, the capital of England, and the streets on those in Paris, the capital of France."33 The Ginza street was modeled after Regent Street, a major thoroughfare in London's West End, under the direction of English engineer T. Waters.34 With this began the "English era" in Japanese architectural history in which buildings in brick became part of the urban landscape. The same trend is responsible for the choice of the model for Tokyo rehabilitation - based on the redevelopment of Paris at the time of Napoleon III's Second Empire promoted by Persigny prefect of the Seine, Georges Eugene Haussman - for improvement of the city center, roads, parks and sewage system.35
It must be kept in mind, however, that the attraction of Western urban models was prompted by a very practical concern, "international moment" provided by the opening of negotiations for revision of the unequal treaties concluded by the Tokugawa shogunate in its final years. Eager to win the respect of the Western powers, the new government sought to recast Tokyo as the Imperial Capital of the Meiji state.
Second, in adopting and implementing Western building styles, a major problem centered on the supply of building materials and manpower for construction. For the brick buildings of the Ginza street, for example, a brick manufacturing plant was set up in Kosuge, Tokyo, where red bricks, which had never been made in Japan before, were mass-produced under the instruction of T. Waters. As many as possible of Japan's small-scale tile craftsmen and even kiln owners were mobilized to produce bricks.36 Many traditional tile makers became brick makers as a result. For the construction work, large numbers of carpenters, masons, sawmill workers and coolies were employed.
In the successful transplantation of Western building techniques and urban construction technology, an important role was thus played by indigenous technical know-how and the presence of a skilled artisan class. Inevitably, the introduced and transplanted techniques underwent substantial change as a result of the particular historical and social conditions of the times. The change in construction materials from stone to wood for the Hibiya central government offices buildings, and the preference given to waterworks improvement over road construction in the city replanning program are examples.
A third characteristic of the urban renewal projects developed in Tokyo was that they were planned and conducted by the authorities from "above," without consideration of the interests or presence of poor residents. This is exemplified by the Ginza project. The entire Shinbashi, Ginza and Tsukiji area was then practically a slum, a residential area inhabited by small shop-keepers, artisans, day-laborers, and itinerent entertainers of the lower social strata.37 The construction project was advanced without regard to local interests, forcing residents to move out of the area on order of the authorities despite continual protests. Petitions requesting permission to remain in the area were submitted by local rickshaw drivers, day-laborers and geisha house owners, but all were refused. No compensation was made for commercial losses.
Only a year after its commencement, however, the Ginza project began to suffer serious setbacks. Some residents, using their own resources, went ahead and rebuilt the burned-out area with wooden houses without waiting for the completion of the brick buildings, and the government was forced to give ipso facto approval.
The conditions for sale of the completed brick houses. called for a down payment of one-third of the total cost of construction and payment of the remaining two-thirds in installments over a period of seven years. Although the government permitted payment by the installment plan, this condition was sufficiently stringent to drive out the slum dwellers from the areas once and for all.38
This government approach applied to subsequent city rehabilitation projects as well. In 1884, for example, Kensei Yoshikawa, Minister of the Interior and governor of Tokyo, declared that "Roads, bridges and rivers are of primary importance; waterworks, housing and sewers are but secondary,"39 confirming the basic urban policy of the Meiji state that gave preference in public investment to roads, bridges and rivers considered vital to industrial development, the distribution of goods and military needs. The expansion of roads was given particular emphasis. Inevitably, facilities for improvement of the living environment of residents such as housing, water supply and sewage disposal were accorded little attention. The fact that the improvement of the water system continued to go forward was the result of the outbreak of cholera epidemics stemming from inadequate sewage facilities. In the face of serious urban problems such as this, the authorities of the central and municipal governments were hard pressed to prevent the foundations of the policy of constructing a "wealthy nation and strong army" from collapsing.

IV. Capitalism and Urban Problems in the History of Tokyo

As mentioned in Section II above, Tokyo history can be divided into three periods, characterized respectively by civil war, natural disaster and war. These represent phenomenal factors from "without" that spontaneously changed the configuration of the downtown area of the city.
In the first period, that is, the period before the Great Kanto Earthquake and Fire of 1923, the city began to show signs of change, although in the downtown area, it essentially maintained the same features of old Edo. As a "modern city," however, it demonstrated changes accompanying the development of the capitalist economic structure and in response to the emergence, establishment, and growth of a capitalist society. For this reason, this period is best subdivided into several shorter periods.
In the process of the primitive accumulation of capital, establishment of industrial capital and formation of monopolistic capital, cities serve as focal points where capital, labor and industrial reserve laborers (part of whom consist of seasonal wage-earners from rural areas) are concentrated.40 In addition to being such a pivot of capitalist development, Tokyo was also the headquarters of the Meiji state's drive toward a "wealthy nation and strong army." Beginning with the one million inhabitants of old Edo, it expanded in several explosive bursts of growth as capitalism established itself in the country. Reversing its previous subordinate position relative to Japan's other major cities, the ancient capital of Kyoto and the commercial center of Osaka, Tokyo took the lead, growing with remarkable speed. In conjunction with Yokohama, it functioned as both the political and commercial center of the nation.
As a "primate" city asserting ascendency over other centers in the country, Tokyo grew swollen with the extreme centralization of state power and the effects of rapid capitalization. Behind its growth, however, were the profound changes and widespread dislocations, in agriculture and impeded development of small and medium-sized local cities.41
From the early Meiji period, as a result of the concentration of capital and population,42 the central area of Tokyo became severely overcrowded. The overflow combined with an urban sprawl enveloping rural villages nearby and producing the social contradictions known as urban problems. The extreme and uncontrolled concentration and accumulation of capital and population in Tokyo worked not only to the disadvantage of laborers and other city residents, but to that of government leaders and capitalists as well, and this made the situation even more serious.
Urban problems range over an extremely wide variety of fields, the cataloging of which spreads over many academic disciplines. They include phenomena such as slums, housing and land shortages, and inadequate public facilities (roads, water supply and sewage, parks, and so on) as well as crime and delinquency, pollution, occupational diseases, and fires and other disasters. Two kinds of problems emerging from the development of capitalism, or a combination of both, most seriously threatened to destroy or endanger the livelihood of city residents. One type was social problems centering on the urban slums. The other type took the form of environmental pollution, of which the most important manifestations were epidemics of cholera and tuberculosis, as well as industrial pollution.43
The urban slum represented by the nagaga (wooden tenements or row-houses) had already made its appearance as the feudal society of the Tokugawa period took shapein the early seventeenth century. Lower-class slum residents, including small merchants, craftsmen, day laborers, construction workers and entertainers, suffered the hardest lot; they were crowded into decrepit housing with neither running water nor plumbing and ravaged by infectious "social" diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis. The urban problems that appeared before the establishment of capitalism out of the combination of social problems and environmental pollution can be considered premodern or "classic" urban problems.
What complicates the character of urban problems in the modern period is the various kinds of segregation with which they can be associated. One type of segregation involved the burakumin or "outcaste" settlements. An "Order of Emancipation" was issued by the Cabinet in 1871 declaring that the status of burakumin was abolished and that former members of that class could choose their occupation freely. However, far from true emancipation, the order only served to confirm buraku residents in their position at the bottom-most rung of the new status hierarchy, now consisting of nobility, shizoku (former samurai) and commoners. Actually, in the early Meiji period Tokyo was one of the major centers of shoes and other leather goods production, which historically had been one of the specialties of the buraku community. The buraku industry and population were then concentrated in the Asakusa area under the leadership of a man named Danzaemon, who lived and operated the Dan Shoemaking Factory in the area.44
As the capitalistic mode of production developed, part of the segregated buraku community moved out of the area and gradually began to break up. In some cases, buraku residents mixed with the outside community, but under Japanese capitalism from this time on, they remained for the most part an integral part of the poor, segregated group exploited as a source of cheap labor.
Another problem involved racial discrimination against Korean residents in Japan. Following the colonization of Korea in 1910 by Japan, some of the Korean farmers whose lands had been taken over were enticed by Japanese labor recruiters to go to Tokyo and other cities as laborers. As of 1922, the Korean population in Tokyo, including students, totalled about 4,600, and their numbers continued to increase. These Korean laborers were forced to dwell in row-house tenements, wooden huts and construction camps and to work in the most menial jobs as apprentices, odd-jobbers, day-laborers, construction workers or coolies. Relegated to a status even below Japanese low-wage laborers, these immigrant laborers provided the cheapest labor source upon which Japanese capitalism was built.45
Another form of segregation was based on sex, as manifested in urban prostitution, and associated with the impoverishment of rural areas. Agents from the cities recruited large numbers of young girls from destitute farming families. Some were sent to work as unskilled laborers in the spinning mills and others were sold to brothels in city red-light districts.46 The former were forced to work under severe taskmasters for long hours at pittance wages, some on all-night shifts. The latter, bound by funds paid in advance to their parents, were pressed into prostitution in a system not unlike the slave trade. The growth of the red-light district went hand in hand with the presence of army troops (the regiments) stationed in the city, and a close relationship grew up between the gay quarters like Yoshiwara and slum districts like San'ya. This reflected the fact that slum residents, particularly rickshaw drivers, were dependent for their living on the presence of such quarters.47
It is clear that these problems associated with class, race and sex segregation constituted the deepest layers of urban problems and that they were intimately connected with the slum areas. The urban problems involving these kinds of segregation were also present in many of the major cities in East Asia at that time, and in this sense, they represent the essentially "Asian" qualities, of urban problems in Japan.
Very different, by contrast, were the problems which accompanied the establishment of industrial capital and the emergence of monopoly capital, for the increasingly advanced industrial structure produced conditions that seriously damaged and destroyed the urban environment. Along with the development of capitalism, epidemics of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis were rampant, and industrial pollution spread throughout the city. Both were new types of environmental disruption, the latter serving particularly to intensify the former.48 These were "modern" urban problems resulting from the concentration of capital in the developmental process of capitalist economy (Westernization); and Tokyo residents suffered severely from the combination of old and new urban problems.
As mentioned above, the Meiji government sought to give Tokyo an appearance of order and dignity in fulfillment of its role as a city epitomizing "wealth and power" in order to assure the revision of the unequal treaties with the Western powers. It was this that provided the impetus for the urban renewal projects to refurbish the "semi-colonized" city suffering from increasingly severe social dislocations manifested in a variety of urban problems (including the types of segregation described above).
Tokyo represented a city of "wealth and power" in several ways. The implementation of the "increased production and promotion of industry" policy of the Meiji government, a policy imposed "from above," was designed to promote the rapid growth of capitalism, through the agency of state power, and inevitably, it functioned to suppress spontaneous bourgeois development "from below."49 As established above, the keynote of the policy of the Meiji state was demonstrated in the precedence given in urban improvement to national interests at the expense of private ones.
This industrial policy provided the material and technological basis upon which the state's policy of military expansion could be implemented. Built up using state capital for its base, the government-operated munitions industry and its facilities (the Tokyo Artillery Arsenal, etc.) were concentrated in Tokyo. In that the army was also stationed in Tokyo, it was clearly a "military city" as well.50
It was during the period when industrial capital became established following the Sino-Japanese War that Tokyo was finally transformed from a "semi-colonized" city to a city of "wealth and power." At that stage, Tokyo established itself substantially in its status of national capital, with Yokohama in a subordinate position as its associated commercial and trading center.
This period also roughly corresponds, then, to the period when the Meiji state succeeded in winning revision of some parts of the unequal treaties (the abolition of extraterritoriality and the concessions), thereby achieving the basic terms for independence from foreign control.


1. A valuable work which treats these problems, although somewhat dated, is Masayuki Kitajima's "Nihon no machi: sono kenkyushi to mondaiten" [Research on Japanese towns: A history and critical appraisal] in Nihon no machi sono rekishiteki kozo [The structure of Japanese towns in historical context], edited by the Council for the Study of Local History and published by Yuzankaku in 1958. A helpful work on the history of research on the townspeople of Edo is Renko Mizue's "Shoki Edo chonin" [Townspeople of the early Tokugawa period] in Edo chonin no kenkyu [Studies on Edo townspeople], vol. 1 (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1972), edited by Matsunosuke Nishiyama. Recent research trends are outlined in Yuichi Takazawa's "Kinsei no seiji keizai: toshi to ryutsu [Politics and economy in the early modern period: Cities and the distribution of goods] in Iwanami koza Nihon rekishi [Iwanami lectures in Japanese history], vol. 26 (Iwanami Shoten, 1977).

2. Important works appearing after the publication of Iwanami koza Nihon rekishi include Tetsuo Tamai, Edo chonin-chi ni kansuru kenkyu [A study of landownership among Edo townspeople] (Kinsei Fuzoku Kenkyukai [Society for the Study of Early Modern Manners and Customs]), and Kazuo Minami, Bakumatsu Edo shakai no kenkyu [A study of Bakumatsu society] (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1978) Historical study of the city is growing more and more widespread, as reflected at the 42nd meeting of the Shakai Keizaishi Gakkai (the Socio-economic History Society) held in May 1973 in which one session was devoted to "Kogyoka to toshi - sono shakai-keizaishi-teki kosatsu." [Industrialization and the city: Analyses from the perspectives of socio-economic history]. The proceedings of this discussion were printed in Shakai keizai shigaku [Journal of'socio-economic history], vol. 39, no. 6. In October 1978, Chihoshi Kenkyu Kyogikai (Council for the Study of Local History) held a conference focused on the theme "The history of cities: Local life and Culture." (See Council for the Study of Local History, ed., Chihoshi kenkyu, special conference issue, no. 154, August 1978.)

3. Concerning modern Osaka, see Meiji Taisho Osaka shishi [A history of Osaka City in Meiji and Taisho periods], 8 vols.; Osaka hyakunen shi [One hundred years of Osaka history]; publication of Osaka fushi [History of Osaka Prefecture] in seven volumes has also begun. On Yokohama, Yokohama shishi [History of Yokohama City], 9 vols., is now available.

4. See Mizue, p. 63 ff.

5. The work by these former vassals and supporters of the feudal regime who were engaged in this work of compiling historical documents is pervaded with their antagonism and rivalry vis-a-vis the Satsuma and Choshu political cliques - the "victors" who had led the establishment of the Meiji government.

6. The eleven sections are: Imperial Castles; Imperial Tombs; Towns; Parks; Disasters; Religions; Water Supply; Industry; Harbours; Relief;
and Bridges. Maps are appended to the sections on Imperial Castles, Towns, and Water Supply.

7. Unpublished historical materials and documents concerning Tokyo are in the keeping of the Tokyo Metropolitan Archives. These, together with those in the archives of the Special Library on Municipal Administration and the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library, are essential materials for the study of Tokyo history. Because they are not completely catalogued, however, they are often inconvenient for research purposes.

8. For a useful outline and critique of the activities of the Tokyo Municipal Government Research Council, see Tokue Shibata, Gendai toshi ron [Modern cities] (Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1976), p. 115 ff.

9. For example, the Council for the Study of Local History chose the common theme machi (towns) for its three annual conferences between 1957 and 1959. The proceedings were published in book form by Yuzankaku as Nihon no machi - sono rekishiteki kozo [The structure of Japanese towns in historical context], Hoken toshi no shomodai: Nihon no machi II [Problems of feudal cities: Japanese towns II], and Bakumatsu Meiji-ki ni okeru toshi to noson: Nihon no machi III [The city and rural village in the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods]. Despite the issues raised in the council meetings, there was no movement in academic circles to build on that discussion or develop the study of the history of cities at that time.

10. Toshio Furushima, Sangyoshi [A history of industry] III, vol. 12 of Taikei Nihonshi sosho [Library of Japanese history] (Yamakawa Shuppansha, 1966).

11. Masumi Tsuda, Nihon no toshi kaso shakai [The society of the urban lower strata in Japan] (Mineruba Shobo, 1972), chapter 1.

12. Masato Miyachi, Nichi-Ro sengo seijishi no kenkyu [Political history after the Russo-Japanese War (Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1973), chapter 2.

13. Hiromichi Ishizuka, "Jukyu seiki kohan ni okeru Tokyo kaizo ron to chikko mondai" [Plans for the reconstruction of Tokyo in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the problem of harbour construction] in Toshi no seiritsu to sono rekishiteki tenkai [The emergence of cities and their historic development] vol. 2, edited by Tokyo Toritsu Daigaku Toshi Kenkyu Soshiki Iinkai (Tokyo Metropolitan University Organization Committee of Urban Society Research). A revised edition of this essay is contained in Tokyo hyakunen shi, vol. 2, part III. Also note Ishizuka, Tokyo no shakai keizai shi - shihon shugi to toshi mondai [A socio-economic history of Tokyo: Capitalism and urban problems] (Kinokuniya Shoten, 1977).

14. See Kiyoshi Inoue, Nihon gendaishi (I) Meiji Ishin [Modern Japanese history (I): the Meiji Restoration] (Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1951); Takashi Ishii, Zotei Meiji Ishin no kokusaiteki kankyo [The international environment of the Meiji Restoration], enlarged and revised edition (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1966); Takashi Ishii, Gakusetsu
hihan Meiji Ishin ron [A critical study of the Meiji Restoration] (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1961); and Hiromichi Ishizuka, Nihon shihonshugi seiritsu-shi kenkyu - Meiji kokka to shokusan kogyo seisaku [A historical study of the development of Japanese capitalism: The Meiji State and the policy of increase of production and promotion of industry] (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1973).

15. As will be mentioned later, there are many studies on the Yokohama and Tsukiji concessions, although few refer to the relationship between those concessions.

16. See Yokohama shishi, vol. 2, part IV, and Ishii, Gakusetsu hihan Meiji ishin ron, p. 98 ff.

17. See Rekishikagaku Kenkyukai (Historical Science Society of Japan), ed., Meiji Ishin-shi kenkyu koza [Lectures on historical studies of the Meiji Restoration] vol. 3 (Heibonsha, 1958), p. 177 ff.

18. "Tsukiji kyoryuchi" [Tsukiji concession], Toshi kiyo, no. 4 (Tokyo Metropolitan Government, 1957), p. 339 ff.

19. Macao, Bombay, Shanghai and other cities set aside similar districts for only Europeans and Americans, although concessions were not always placed in these cities. (As is suggested by Shogo Koyano.)

20. See Tokyo hyakunen-shi, vol. 2, p. 49 ff.

21. Nippon Kokuyu Tetsudo hyakunen-shi [A century of the Japan National Railways] (Japan National Railways) vol. 1,-p. 89 ff.; and Hideo Nagai, "Shokusan kogyo seisaku ron - kan'ei jigyo o chushin to shite" [On the policy of increase of production and promotion of industry: Focus on government enterprises] in the Hokkaido University Bulletin of the Faculty of Letters, no. 10, pp. 134-135.

22. Ishizuka, Tokyo no shakai keizai-shi, p. 100.

23. See Tokyoko-shi [A history of Tokyo Port] (Tokyo Metropolitan Government), part I.

24. See Hiromichi Ishizuka, Nihon shihonshugi seiritsu-shi kenkyu, chapters 1 and 2.

25. Tokyo-shi shiko, volume on Shigai [Towns], and "Ginza rengagai no kensetsu" [The construction of brick buildings on the Ginza] in Toshi kiyo, no. 3 (Tokyo Metropolitan Government, 1955), are. major references on the Ginza project. Basic historical materials can also be found among "Tokyo-fu monjo" [Documents on Tokyo Prefecture] in the Tokyo Metropolitan Archives.

26. Koji Nishikawa, Nihon toshi shi kenkyu [A study of the history of Japanese cities] (Nihon Hoso Shuppan Kyokai, 1972), p. 417 ff.

27. Tokyo-shi shiko, volume on Hensai [Disasters], vol. 5, p. 994 ff.

28. For an analysis of the Ginza project in terms of city planning see my essay in Tokyo hyakunen-shi, vol. 2, p. 927 ff.

29. On the plan for constructing the Hibiya central government office district, see Meiji kogyokai (Meiji Civil Engineering Society), Meiji kogyo-shi [History of industry in the Meiji period], volume
on architecture; Nihon kagaku gijutsu-shi taikei (17) - Kenchiku gijutsu [History of science and technology in Japan (17): Architectural techniques] (Daiichi Hoki Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha); Eizo Inagaki, Nihon no kindai kenchiku [A modern Japanese architecture], (Maruzen, 1979); and Shin'jiro Kirishiki, Meiji no kenchiku [Architecture in the Meiji period] (Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 1966).

30. See Hiromichi Ishizuka, "Tokyo shiku kaisei jigyo-shi kenkyu josetsu - josuido kairyo jigyo to shikai burujowaji no ugoki o megutte" [An introduction to the historical study of Tokyo city replanning projects: Waterworks improvement and moves by the city council and bourgeoisie] in Toshi kenkyu hokoku [Report on urban research], no. 55, edited by the Tokyo Metropolitan University Urban Study Committee; Tokyo-shi shiko, volume on Towns, vol. 69; and Tokyo Shiku Kaisei Iinkai (Tokyo City Replanning Committee), ed., Tokyo shiku kaisei jigyo-shi [A record of Tokyo city replanning] (1919).

31. On the outbreak of epidemics in the Meiji and Taisho periods, see Shoji Tachikawa, Byoki no shakai-shi [The social history of disease] (Nihon Hoso Shuppan Kyokai, 1971), p. 169 ff., and Hiromichi Ishizuka, "Meiji shoki no Tokyo ni okeru korera-byo taisaku to minshu - toshi seisaku-shi kenkyu oboegaki (1)" [Anti-cholera policy and the townspeople of Tokyo in the early Meiji period: Notes on the historical study of urban policies (1)] in Jinbun gakuho, no. 114 (Tokyo Metropolitan University).

32. On the "waterworks scandal," see Hiromichi Ishizuka, "Tokyo shiku kaisei . . .," pp. 30-33.

33. Seiichi Hattori, Tokyo shin hanjo-ki [Accounts of prosperous Tokyo] (Shuhokaku, 1925), p. 110.

34. Shin'jiro Kirishiki, p. 70.

35. See Hiromichi Ishizuka, "Tokyo shiku kaisei . . . ."

36. Tokyo hyakunen-shi, vol. 2, p. 932.

37. There are no historical materials on slum conditions in Tokyo at that time, but some reference can be found in Hiromichi Ishizuka, Tokyo no shakai keizai-shi, Table I-1 (p. 22).

38. Though the government allowed payment in installments, the price of a brick building on the Ginza was markedly expensive at ¥75 per tsubo. (The national average price of rice in 1873 was ¥4.72 per koku, an amount sufficient for one person for one year.)

39. In "Shiku kaisei ikensho" [Statement on city improvement] (presented 14 November 1884) in Tokyo shiku kaisei hinkai chikko shinsa tenmatsu [The course of investigation of port construction as part of Tokyo city replanning], p. 9.

40. See Seiji Nishikawa, ed., Gendai shihonshugi to toshi mondai [Modern capitalism and city problems]; Yasuhiko Shima et al., eds., Koza gendai Nihon no toshi mondai [Lectures on modern Japanese urban problems] (Tokyo: Chobunsha, 1973).
41. Takeshi Hayashi, ed., Hatten tojokoku no toshika [Urbanization in developing countries] (Institute of Developing Economies, 1976), pp. 20-29. Tokyo, while the capital of Japan, was a "semi-colonized" city during the early Meiji period, as stated previously. The task of comparing the urban structure of Meiji period Tokyo with the historical image of urbanization in Asian and African developing countries will be valuable in identifying the particularly Asian character of Tokyo history.

42. Cf. Ishizuka, Tokyo no shakai keizai-shi, pp. 101-104, pp. 149-152, pp. 199-200, and figure III-2 (p. 102).

43. Ibid., p. 128.

44. Yoshio Nakanishi, "Nihon hikaku sangyo no shiteki hatten (1)" [The historical development of the leather industry in Japan (1)] in Buraku mondai no shiteki kyumei [The historical study of the buraku problem], vol. 21 of Rekishi kagaku taikei [Survey of historiography] (Azekura Shobo, 1976) and Tokyo hyakunen-shi, vol. 21, p. 1,284 ff.

45. See, in particular, "Zaikyo Chosenjin jokyo" [The living conditions of Koreans in Tokyo], in vol. 1 of Pak Gyeonsik, ed., Zainichi Chosenjin kankei shiryo shusei [Collected documents on Koreans in Japan] (San'ichi Shobo, 1975).

46. Menshi boseki shokko jijo [Working conditions of spinning-mill workers] (Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce), p. 72.

47. There is a great deal of literature on the red-light districts and the prostitution system in the cities, especially in the Tokugawa period, from the viewpoint of the history of manners and customs, but very little that provides a scholarly analysis of their significance as urban problems from the Meiji period onward. See vol. 3 of Tokyo hyakunen-shi, pp. 804-816.

48. Ishizuka, Tokyo no shakai keizai-shi, p. 73 and p. 216.

49. Ishizuka, Nihon shihonshugi seiritsu-shi kenkyu, p. 11.

50. Tokyo hyakunen-shi, vol. 3, p. 794 ff.