Hiroshima (1920 and 1940s)/ The influence of American Occupation Authorities (on Green Space Policies)
Regional green space systems were an important aspect of city planning in Japan since the 1920s (Sorensen, 2002, p146), drawing influence from the Amsterdam conference in 1924 and the American metropolitan parks movement in the 19th century. Although these plans were discussed pre-war, it was only until 1940s that they were given serious consideration upon the revision of the City Planning Law that defined green spaces as public facilities, making the use of land for greenbelts and parks legally permissible.
Many potential urban changes for the war-devastated city of Hiroshima had been brought about by rich discussions between Japanese architects, planners and others. These plans included the planning of many parks and the Peace Park Plan by Kenzo Tange. However, the American occupation authorities highly opposed this ‘flamboyant planning’ for their ‘former enemy’, favouring a more austere and economically efficient approach to rebuilding these war devastated cities (Blackford, 2007, p142). Parks can be deemed unnecessary to the rebuilding of a city by those in disciplines other than architecture and urban planning because the building of parks doesn’t solve an immediate problem at hand and therefore the redevelopment of a city as opposed to, for example, a residential area that would immediately solve a lack of housing. Therefore, plans for parks, including Tange’s unrealised Central park, were left unrealised while priority was given to more pressing issues.
Moreover, the United States had dropped the atomic bomb and the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers (GHQ) would not permit legislation that focused on the reconstruction of Hiroshima. At the time, all bills needed prior approval from the GHQ before they were submitted to the Diet.
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.
SORENSEN, A. (ed.) (2002) The Making of Urban Japan: cities and planning from Edo to the twenty-first century. London: Routledge.