Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.61 No.2 (2009)

Vol.61 No.2 (2009)



A Study of the Concept of ‘Service Areas of Central Cities (Living Areas)’ in the ‘Regional Structure of Two Tiers’ in New Japanese National Planning
MORIKAWA Hiroshi (1)

Research Note

Mito Station as a Youth Gathering Place
Kazuko ICHIKAWA (16)
The Dietary Life of the Elderly in Local Cities and Food Desert Issues:
A case study of Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture
IWAMA Nobuyuki, TANAKA Koichi, SASAKI Midori, KOMAKI Nobuhiko, SAITO Yukio (29)
State Sovereignty and the Recognition of Refugee Status:
the treatment of asylum seekers in devolved Scotland
YAMAGUCHI Satoshi (47)

Meeting Report

265th Regular Meeting (66)
96th Meeting of Geographical Thought (70)
News (72)
Announcement (74)


A Study of the Concept of ‘Service Areas of Central Cities (Living Areas)’ in the ‘Regional Structure of Two Tiers’ in New Japanese National Planning


In May 2004 the National Land Council introduced the concept of ‘service areas of central cities (living areas)’ in the ‘regional structure of two tiers’. It consists of two parts: 9 regional blocks with 6 to 10 million inhabitants, and 82 living areas principally with more than 300,000 inhabitants in areas delimited by a one―hour―distance (by family car) from central cities with over approximately 100,000 inhabitants. However, in actually considering their distribution as uniform as possible throughout the whole country, there are smaller areas such as the living area of Imabari City with only 190,000 inhabitants in 82 living areas which are distributed similarly to the 85 commuting and schooling areas prepared by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Within these 82 living areas about 90 percent of total population of the country can enjoy fundamental urban services and maintain their high living condition. Accordingly, the concept of living areas is intended to prevent population decreases in non―metropolitan areas.
Although this concept that intends to maintain a uniform living standard for the inhabitants of non―metropolitan areas seems to be mostly effective in the period of population decrease forecast for the future, it tends to overestimate the service areas of central cities as compared to the actual commuting area of each central city as shown in Table 3. Commuting areas of smaller cities located on the peripheries of designated living areas, such as the commuting area of Kashiwazaki City near by Nagaoka City and the commuting area of Mihara City near Fukuyama City, are fearful of extraordinary decline under decreasing population brought about by the measures for the promotion of these 82 central cities. In order to prevent the rapid population decrease of central cities and their surrounding areas in non―metropolitan areas, and to keep a population balance between them and metropolitan areas, it is necessary to designate smaller central cities with living areas of 100,000 to 300,000 inhabitants as the second tier, adding to the living areas of over 300,000 inhabitants. In addition, the author will propose the promotion of central places with living areas of more than 10,000 inhabitants as the third order. The promotion measures of larger cities strikes a severe blow to smaller cities, so it is necessary to promote not only large cities but also small cities. Since some of these small central places have under―populated areas within their living areas, these measures will contribute to relieving the population decrease in under―populated areas and areas rich in natural surroundings.

Key words: central city, commuting area, living area (service area of central city), regional structure of two tiers, population decrease, areas rich in natural surroundings

Mito Station as a Youth Gathering Place

(Graduate Student, Department of Arts and Science, University of Tokyo)

This paper discusses how urban open space is made into a gathering place for youth within the dynamics of two different relationships, that among youths, and that between adults and youths. As a case study, I interviewed youths who gathered in front of Mito Station in Ibaraki Prefecture.
The public open space in front of Mito Station is laxly regulated by the local government, so that youths who cannot find affordable space for leisure activities at their homes, schools, or in the local community tend to gather there. They include street dancers, BMX riders, street musicians, and loiterers. Friendly relationships between groups are limited to those of the same or similar leisure activity. The relationship between dancers or BMX riders is fairly friendly. On the other hand, their relationships with the street musicians or loiterers is not so friendly.
At Mito Station, control of the space by the police shapes use by each leisure activity group. The degree of strictness of control differs according to each leisure activity. For example, the control of the street musicians is stricter than that of the dancers or the BMX riders. Policemen tend to enforce control on various kinds of street performers from the perspective of their own sense of morality. The control by police of the loiterers is based rather on a sense of paternalism. We can see the policemen’s differing level of control through these examples.
Mito Station has been made into a youth gathering place by two relationships. One relationship is among the youths themselves, and the other is between the youths and the policemen. How the youths feel in the public open space depends on the policemen’s level of control. For musicians or loiterers, the public open space isn’t a comfortable place to stay in because of the policemen’s stricter control. For dancers or BMX riders, the place is much more comfortable, because of the policemen’s relative tolerance. Thus the policemen’s level of control affects the relationships among these youths.
Therefore, the creation of a gathering place for youths within an urban open space depends on the nature of the youth’s relationships.

Key words: youth, open space, control of space, Mito Station

The Dietary Life of the Elderly in Local Cities and Food Desert Issues:
A case study of Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture

IWAMA Nobuyuki
(School of Literature, Ibaraki Christian University)
(Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Tokushima University, Japan)
(Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences, Hiroshima Shudo University, Japan)
KOMAKI Nobuhiko
(Doctoral Program in Geoenvironmental Science, University of Tsukuba, Japan)
(Mito Tankidaigaku Fuzoku High School)

The purpose of this paper is to clarify the local residential environment of the elderly in Japanese cities, and to provide an introduction to ‘food deserts’. The case―study city is Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Food desert issues represent a social exclusion problem. These issues include access to food for low―income households in low―income neighborhoods, particularly to food that is integral to a healthy diet. These issues are openly discussed outside Japan, especially in European countries. Food deserts are defined as, “those areas where car―less residents, unable to reach out―of―town supermarkets, depend on the corner shop, where prices are high, products are processed and fresh fruit and vegetables are poor or non―existent.” It has further been stated that, “the increasing tendency toward out―of―town supermarkets has led to the creation of ‘food deserts’, where cheap and varied food is accessible only to those who have private transport or are able to pay the costs of public transport if it is available.” In the UK, fatal diseases such as cerebrovascular disease and breast and lung cancer have been linked to poor nutrition, which in turn is linked to food deserts. In addition, these social exclusion issues often lead to crime, violence, and terrorism.
The main factors that cause European food desert problems are social exclusion and poor access to food retailers. We find similar factors in Japanese cities. Japan is facing a crisis resulting from a rapidly aging population, and many elderly people live in downtown districts. A decline in downtown shops is notable. As a result, a food deprivation problem occurs for many elderly people living downtown in Japanese cities. This paper provides an introduction to the Japanese food desert issue, based on a case study of Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. People over the age of 65 in the CBD of Mito comprise 25.4% of the residents. Many neighborhood fresh―food stores have closed since the 1990s.
The authors studied food retail access using a GIS (Geographical Information System) and found large food deprivation areas around the CBD of Mito City. Subsequent interviews and questionnaire surveys in these areas clarified the residential environment of the elderly. Many elderly people from inner Mito travel more than three kilometers each way, by bicycle or on foot, to go shopping. They shop only once or twice per week, and their daily consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit is less than half that of the national average.
There is little doubt the elderly in inner Mito are facing a nutrition deprivation problem that is a food desert issue. Some European studies have considered the effectiveness of large―scale, retailer―oriented solutions to such problems. However, a strategy for tackling the issue of Japanese food deserts must be considered from a local perspective. Yet Japanese studies have just begun.
This is a case study of a provincial city, but similar problems may also occur in other metropolitan centers and rural areas. We must first define Japanese food desert issues and then develop a research agenda to address them.

Key words: food deserts, the elderly, fresh food, local cities, Mito City

State Sovereignty and the Recognition of Refugee Status:
the treatment of asylum seekers in devolved Scotland

(Faculty of Literature, Kwansei Gakuin University)

The term ‘asylum seeker’ refers to a person who flees his or her country due to conflict and requests the right to remain in the host country. According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees held in Geneva, persons assessed as refugees are entitled to the same civil rights that the natural citizens of the host country have. Until the asylum seeker is certified as a refugee, he/she is a ‘bare life’ standing against the sovereign power of a modern nation state with no political rights. Since the 1990s, many immigrants including asylum seekers have fled to the West, and consequently, these countries have ‘fortified’ themselves in response to the increasing number of immigrants.
In 2000, the Home Office of the United Kingdom established the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). NASS introduced the ‘Policy of Compulsory Dispersal’ which aims to avoid the concentration of asylum seekers in a particular area, especially London. As a result, asylum seekers, who are awaiting the decision of the Home Office, are being dispersed all over the UK. In 2006, the Scottish city Glasgow was hosting the largest number of asylum seekers in the UK.
In 1999, the Parliament of UK devolved autonomy to Scotland in all areas except for defense, foreign policy, and immigration and nationality. It is evident that devolved Scotland is relatively more tolerant towards immigrants including refugees and asylum seekers than England and the rest of the UK, so as to balance Scotland’s declining population.
The Home Office has conducted dawn raids to detain and deport failed asylum seekers who continue their stay. Since 2005, the Scottish Executive has been criticizing the practice of dawn raids as inhumane. As a result of the negotiations between the Scottish Executive and the Home Office, dawn raids were suspended in 2006, but only in Scotland. Westminster has acquiesced to Scottish territoriality to a certain extent. However, in an attempt to outwit Scotland, the Home Office has introduced ‘new tactics’ that may subvert Scotland’s concerns as the purpose of these tactics is to detain failed asylum seekers undercover in Scotland and then transfer them to England. In this action, we can observe the strong but hidden intent that the Home Office and the UK government have to retain their stronghold on the immigration policy which is strongly connected to state sovereignty.

Key words: asylum seeker, refugee, immigration policy, state sovereignty, United Kingdom, Scotland

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