A comparative study of the European and Japanese definitions of shrinking cities as applied to Japan

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Population decline and industrial decline are obvious phenomena not only in Europe but also in Japan. Issues related to population and industrial decline have been actively discussed, and academic knowledge and analysis based on international comparative studies are expected to develop countermeasures to the most critical situations. The definition of shrinking city that is applied, however, is not necessarily the same, and such a fundamental element of the discussion has not been fully examined so far. This study, therefore, aims at comparing the different definitions of “shrinking cities” used in Japan and Europe and developing the best way to provide a reliable basis for future discussion on shrinking cities’ topics. The results of this comparative study suggest that COST Action’s definition allows an analysis of Japanese cities to include the so-called “depopulated area issue” because the Japanese population in municipalities is rather bigger than the population in European municipalities, and Japanese cities may have lower figures for population density distribution and artificial land use within their territory. In conclusion, Japanese sampled cities based on the Japanese definition are not necessarily suitable for the basis of a comparison study. This is because some Japanese “cities” do not satisfy objective criteria such as population size because the “city” has never been downgraded having once been upgraded to “city”. Rather, the European definition of “city” better reflects the elements of the city, so that Japan should also follow the European definition of “city” for future discussions on shrinking cities.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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