Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.70 No.2 (2018)

Vol.70 No.2 (2018)




KUMANO Takafumi
Location of Newly Built Dwellings and Changing Urban Structure in the Outer Suburban City of Osaka Metropolitan Area: Case Study of Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture (193)

Research Notes

Vitality of Japan’s Municipalities Amid Population Decline (215)

Relation Between School Consolidation and Resignation in Otaki District, Chichibu City: Process of Closing All Elementary Schools in a District (233)

UESUGI Masaya and YANO Keiji
A Geodemographic Analysis to Assess Variations in School Performance Based on Educational Achievement: A Case Study of Osaka City, Japan (253)


Book Reviews (272)

Meeting Reports (284)

News from Research Groups (289)

News from Society (305)


Location of Newly Built Dwellings and Changing Urban Structure in the Outer Suburban City of Osaka Metropolitan Area: Case Study of Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture

KUMANO Takafumi
Graduate student, School of Letters, Kyoto University; JSPS Research Fellow

This paper examines the locations of newly built dwellings and related land use changes from the late 1980s in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture and investigates the factors related to such changes. This city is located in the outer suburbs of the Osaka metropolitan area. In contrast to the period from the late 1980s through the early 1990s that showed an increase in the population and high land prices, Sakurai City, which currently faces depopulation and land price reduction, has undergone decentralization of newly built dwellings and conversions of land use into vacant or parking lots in its central areas, since the late 1990s. As a result, the city has developed low-density urban structures. We identified the following main factors that affect these changes. First, the composition of the housing supply in the outer suburbs has been dominated by detached housing due to falling metropolitan land prices. Second, suburban living activities are based on automobile ownership rather than public transportation (trains) in relation to increasing commuters among suburban municipalities. Third, a spatial mismatch exists between land supply and demand. Fourth, the aging of land owners and harsh economic environments increased land sales and apartment construction for rental use in the city’s outskirts. Fifth, many land owners in the city’s central areas launched parking businesses as a way of land utilization, based on low-risk investment. The above findings suggest that changing urban structures in outer suburban cities have been influenced not only by land use patterns in them but also by such metropolitan restructuring as multi-nucleation and the end of suburbanization.

Key words: location of newly built dwellings, urban structure, housing map, outer suburban city, Sakurai City, Osaka metropolitan area

Vitality of Japan’s Municipalities Amid Population Decline

Emeritus professor of Hiroshima University

The study of urban systems encompasses understanding both the connecting relationships between each town or city as well as specific urban characteristics. Following the method of BBSR (2012), I analyzed the vitality of municipalities in Japan using seven criteria, including population fluctuation rates (2010–2015). “Vital” cities, as opposed to “growing” cities, are municipalities with four or more criteria with values equal to or higher than the highest 20%. Similarly, declining municipalities are those with four or more criteria with values at or below the lowest 20%, and cannot be said to be shrinking cities when the population is in decline due to low birth rates rather than deindustrialization or globalization. Vital cities consist of many large cities with higher-order urban functions, wholesale and retail workers, and financial strength, whereas declining municipalities are small cities and other municipalities with <30,000 inhabitants. These mostly have high population aging rates. While manufacturing industry is normally an important activity for municipalities with 10,000–100,000 inhabitants, it is not related to vitality. Vital cities are largely concentrated in three metropolitan areas—Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya—with the exception of the area surrounding Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture. There are also many vital cities in the areas surrounding regional central cities, such as Fukuoka and Sendai. There is a relatively smaller concentration of vital cities near central Osaka and Sapporo. Many of the declining municipalities consist of depopulated municipalities and so-called shometsu-kanosei toshi (cities that may disappear in the future). These are also distributed across remote areas of the country, particularly in non-merged small municipalities. There are no vital cities in the prefectures of Akita, Wakayama, and Kochi, including the prefectural capital cities. The vitality of urban systems in these prefectures appears to already be strongly impaired.

Key words: vital cities, declining municipalities, shrinking cities, municipality population, urban systems

Relation Between School Consolidation and Resignation in Otaki District, Chichibu City: Process of Closing All Elementary Schools in a District

Graduate student, School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University

School consolidation due to the decreasing number of school age children has been a difficult process. Schools are not merely educational facilities: they are places for community work, interaction and are symbols of the school district. Therefore, school consolidation exerts strong effects on the school district communities. Nevertheless, few studies to date have examined school symbolism. This report presents the examination of elementary school closure processes in Otaki District, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture, in which no municipal school currently exists. This study particularly addresses school functions, and specifically reconsiders the frameworks of earlier studies. The results clarify that elementary school consolidations were supported passively, perhaps because the respective school districts apparently had no future; it was meaningless to maintain elementary schools there. This view represented the prevailing resignation in each school district when confronting the decreasing population, declining industry, and dam construction. Moreover, because of elementary school consolidation, communities lost locations that emphasized the presence of children and young people. The lack of a future for school districts became apparent, which likely contributed to the people’s resignation. These findings suggest a close relationship between schools and recognition of the future of school districts. One can point out the elementary school function as a symbol of a school district’s “future.” The changing structure of conflict related to school consolidation among residents reflects people’s prospects for the future of a school district.

Key words: school consolidation, school symbolism, resignation to school district, Otaki District, Chichibu City

A Geodemographic Analysis to Assess Variations in School Performance Based on Educational Achievement: A Case Study of Osaka City, Japan

Faculty of Socio-Environmental Studies, Fukuoka Institute of Technology
YANO Keiji
College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University

This article introduces geodemographic classification to examine the relationship between intra-urban spatial variations in educational achievements and residential characteristics, and to assess the substantial school performances considering the socioeconomic background in which the school is situated. The study focuses on Osaka City, where socioeconomic residential segregation can be seen relatively clearly. We used school-level average scores from the National Assessment of Academic Ability, 2013, as a measure of educational achievement. The key findings are as follows: First, there exists a spatial inequality in educational achievement that corresponds to the urban spatial structure of Osaka City. Second, there was a strong association between the types of neighborhoods where students live and the educational achievements of their schools. Third, distinctive disparities in educational achievements between types of neighborhoods were implied. Almost half of the variations in achievements among schools were accounted for by the differences in the neighborhood types within the individual school catchment areas. This suggests that in order to make a fair evaluation of school performances, it is essential to refer to the socioeconomic background in which the school is situated. Furthermore, substantial school effectiveness derives from the difference between the actual and expected achievements based on neighborhood types, and is greater at schools with higher levels of educational achievements. These findings suggest that geodemographics provides a useful way to not only describe the educational inequalities between neighborhoods and social groups but to also identify policy targets aimed at reducing the inequalities from a spatial justice perspective.

Key words: educational achievement, residential segregation, geodemographics, neighborhood, spatial justice, Osaka City


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