The Neutral City – War Damage Reconstruction Agency – Post-war Urban Planning Standard

Apart from the foreign forces, post-war modernization in the city planning was also affected by the local institution, namely the War Damage Reconstruction Agency. It was actually planned before Japan lost the war since Ohashi, the Ministry of the Interior predicted that reconstruction is necessary under any circumstances – either victory and defeat. It had various executions of urban planning standard throughout the city after the war period which aimed to bring revolutionary reform to urban structure.

War Damage Reconstruction Agency was established under the leadership of Takeo Ohashi, the chief leader of the Ministry of the Interior, after two months of the defeats of the war. However, the plan was set up before the war since reconstruction of the city was predicted necessary and thus the outline of the plan was already completed at the time of defeat. Moreover, the reconstruction plan was also based on the Great Kanto Earthquake which served as a model of disaster reconstruction. The Basic Policy of the of War-damaged Area Reconstruction Toshi-keikaku was officially adopted in October 8,1945. It included different standards for the road system and urban structure which was said to be revolutionary and high standard.

The width of the main arterial road was set to be at least 50 meters in a large city, 36 meters or more in a medium to small city. The construction planning of a road required a width of 100 meters (nowadays as know as Peace Boulevard 平和大通), doubling as a zone and fire protection zone. Besides, it also had to consider the expansion of urban parks in which the target of green area was set for at least 10% in the city.

However, because of the fact that the bombed cities are scattered around the country, planning activities were divided into two levels within the Ministry of Interior: the Department of Toshi-Keikaku (City Planning) in the Ministry would prepare basic policies, bills and design standards, while the Toshi-Keikaku Local Committees of the national government established within the prefecture office would prepare reconstruction plan. From here, we can understand the structure of the reconstruction plan in which the drafting and executive body was separated. Later, the War-Damaged Reconstruction Agency requested in the Basic Policy to establish a land use plan before determining toshi-keikaku of public facilities, zoning and land readjustment. Yet, they could not define the land use plan precisely and could not locate a land use plan in the reconstruction planning process. They instead found planning experts like Eika Takayama and Kenzo Tange to study the land use plan.

For the implementation and actual planning, the reconstruction plan was affected because of the implementation of Dodge Line and re-examination of the plan done by the Cabinet in 1949. Eventually in 1959, the plan was terminated due to reduction of state subsidy by 50%. In the end, out of 24 originally planned 100-meter roads in the country, only two in Nagoya and one in Hiroshima were realised. The efficiency of the plan was not as significant as the Dodge Line supervised by the SCAP.

Although the War Damage Reconstruction Plan was not efficient in carrying out reconstruction in urban planning since it’s not fully realised, it still embodied different significance that trigger planning in the post-war Japan. Firstly, it set as an internal solution of the damaged area in Japan. Since most of the original concept was planned by the Ministry of Interior, it was not affected by the foreign power, the modernisation process was more self-initiated. Secondly, it also extend the legacy of the plan to the influence of Kenzo Tange, which was later the head planner of the Peace Memorial City.


100-metre long road under the urban planning standard in Hiroshima

Orange area is the houses that was planned to be demolished to make room for boulevard



Kobayashi Ikuo, 2005 “Toshi Keikaku Planner Kara No Kenshou.” Nihon Zouen Gakkai Shi68(3): 216-220

Fukuo Akimoto, 2007, 15th ‘Irony of Plan-Making: reconstruction plans from the Great Kanto Earthquake to the Great East Japan Earthquake’

広島都市生活研究会. (1985). 都市の復興 : 広島被爆 40年史 = Reconstruction of Hiroshima : Pictorial history of forty years since atomic bombing. 広島市: 広島市.

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