Hiroshima (1919 and 1945)/ New national measures that framed Hiroshima’s reconstruction

As they approached reconstruction, Hiroshima faced new national measures that framed their actions

(Blackford, 2007, p.142)

Two years after the 1945 bombing, American authorities attempted to encourage democracy in Japan by having the Japanese Diet pass a Local Autonomy law which allowed for direct elections for mayors and governors of cities in Japan. This meant the abolishment of the Home Ministry. The Home Ministry administered City Planning and Urban Building laws that permeated the entire country since 1919, showing the “primacy of Japan’s central government in urban planning” (Blackford, 2007, p.132). These laws imposed were influenced by western ideas, in Japans early attempt at a “comprehensive planning system that applied to whole urban areas and all major cities, that could structure activity on the urban fringe, and provide controls on individual buildings.” (Blackford, 2007, p.132)

The City Planning and Urban Building laws in 1919 composed of five major provisions:

  1. Zoning that composed of larger ‘intermixture of land uses’. For example, factories and employees’ housing were located next to each other.
  2. Specific building codes for different zones: Building materials, building heights, building lot coverages
  3. Building lines: construction could only occur on lots fronting the edges of roads
  4. Designation and construction of public facilities such as parks
  5. Land readjustment schemes

The Home Ministry was replaced in 1947 by the Ministry of Construction that had little change in ideas. However, even with the passage of a Local Autonomy law, the local governments had little in the way of power as they required approval from the Ministry of Construction to issue bonds to funds improvement projects.

The Diet approved a Basic Policy for War-Damaged Areas Reconstruction Law, resulting in ambitious targets for urban rebuilding. Approving this law established strengthened land-use reconstruction guidelines. Building on the fourth major provision of the City Planning and Urban Building Laws, it urged that 10% of all urban areas be reserved as parks, that cities be surrounded by extensive greenbelts, and that broad boulevards be implemented as firebreaks and to cater to increased automobile traffic.

Reference:

BLACKFORD, M. G. (ed.) (2007) Southern Japan during American Occupation. In Pathways to the Present: U.S. Development and Its Consequences in the Pacific. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.

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