The Congestion Issue of the Central Tokyo in the 1980s

The Tokyo congestion is causing abrasive intraregional schisms. Some areas within Tokyo have been the victim of the Tokyo problem. During the 1980s, the Japanese economy underwent a rapid structural transformation. Since then, service-oriented industries have loomed large in
Japan’s economy. Several sections in the heart of the capital city, however, have been unable to keep pace with these changes. In particular, those Tokyo communities whose economies are based on manufacturing and heavy industry are in trouble. Even though they are in the heart of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, they fail to enjoy the prosperity and expansion that concentration has brought the capital area. Instead, a number of locales in central Tokyo have an ageing population and declining industries: the same syndrome that affects the rural sectors of the country.

According to a study on the Tokyo problem, the maintenance cost of an office in Tokyo is probably around 5 million yen per employee per year. This is lower than in many other cities in Japan, despite the fact that rent and living expenses are staggering in the capital region. If a firm has an office in Sapporo, Hokkaido, it must frequently send its employees to Tokyo to keep close contact and good rapport with central bureaucrats. In doing this, the company must bear the travel costs and cover the food and accommodation expenses, not to mention the communication costs of the employees. In the case of a company operating from Sapporo, the maintenance cost would go up to more than twice that of Tokyo, to 13 million yen per worker per year.


Akira Nakamura, “The Tokyo Problem and the Development of Urban Issues in Japan”, Globalization and Decentralization: Institutional Contexts, Policy Issues, (Georgetown University Press, 1996), 191-201.

1 Comment on “The Congestion Issue of the Central Tokyo in the 1980s

  1. In relation to the other one you posted, mega structure is also one of the typologies Tokyo used for station building. Although the congestion issue of Tokyo still existed, the T.O.D of Tokyo did help to deliberate this issue. It will be interesting if you can talk about both congestion issue of the central issue and how the development of transportation system in the city promoted the travel efficiency.

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