Pros & Cons of Suburban Redevelopment 〜都市近郊部再開発の是非〜


   A project to rebuild a large apartment complex in Tama city near Chuo University has all but been completed, with its sale in lots due to begin in March. When the Suwa 2-Chome complex was demolished for reconstruction in September 2011, it attracted national attention as a model case involving a dilapidating suburban new town.





 Such complexes including the ones in the Tama area were developed one after another to cope with the population influx into cities during Japan’s high economic growth years. Many of them are at a major turning point now as they become superannuated and their residents get older. It is almost 40 years since they began accommodating the first batch of dwellers.




 That was how the Suwa 2-Chome project got under way. Support facilities and a clinic have been newly built at the refurbished complex so that elderly persons can live in comfort. A community cafe and dog runs have also been prepared in order to make up for a lack of places for personal contacts peculiar to an apartment complex.



 However, some people are critical of such attempt to turn a suburban complex into a more comfortable living space through redevelopment. Some of them tend to attribute the post-growth increase in crime and the young people’s lack of cooperativeness to what they see as the absence of working persons in the suburbs and the homogeneity of new town life. Others directly link the people’s long commuting hours in packed train to their stress and overwork.





 The waterfront redevelopment in the center of Tokyo has made tenement available at relatively lower cost, giving rise to the question if it is really necessary to redevelop suburban new towns at a huge cost. (The Suwa 2-Chome residents do not need to have much cash as they can get necessary expenses by using the rights to the land they own, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they have no financial burden to bear.)





 The population keeps aging and dwindling in today’s Japan. What do you think of suburban redevelopment when you look at new towns in the longer perspective of, say, 30 to 50 years?





Written By : Kento Isogai (磯貝健人)