Vol.31-No.01 January 1,1992
On November 19, an annual Report on the National Life for scal 1991, subtitled "Tokyo and Regional Areas-Diversied Choices for Auence," was submitted by Director-General Takeshi Noda of the Economic Planning Agency (EPA) at a Cabinet meeting for approval. The report analyzes consumption behavior in the booming Japanese economy by classifying groups by age, annual income and housing type-which shows growth in real consumption expenditures in almost all the groups. The report, on the other hand, points to the gap in living conditions between Tokyo and other cities, probing regional structure and policy as the approach for reducing "excessive concentration in Tokyo."
Part II of the annual report, entitled the "centralization in Tokyo and nation's living standards," analyzes life auence by using prefecture-wise indicators. Indicators, which averaged 50, are derive from EPA calculations based on the Management and Coordination Agency's statistics on social life and EPA's poll on preference of national life in three areas of the living environment, labor conditions and leisure opportunities. The indicators show that Yamanashi Prefecture was ranked as the "most auent prefecture" (56.4), while Saitama and Chiba were ranked as the "least auent prefecture" (44.0). The Tokyo area, comprising Tokyo and its three surrounding prefectures, was ranked low because skyrocketing land prices made it possible for few people to own a house, and forcing workers to commute long hours.
Economic and social reforms, such as changes in employment patterns and the highly individualized construction of regional communities, should be attempted in order to solve city problems in Tokyo and its outlying prefectures, the report says. Centralization in Tokyo was rst made an issue in the 1959 report. The nation promoted reform through four phases of the Comprehensive National Development plan under the common idea of "Balanced Development of National Land." The Provisional Commission for Administrative Reform and the Council on Administrative Reform adopted the existing administrative system for dealing with the issue. In reality, however, the gap between Tokyo and the rest of the country has widened, causing serious repercussions. Thus, the report points out the need to review the functions of both central and regional areas.
Despite the weakpoint of housing, as compared with others prefectures, Tokyo nonetheless boasts the strength of many job opportunities, abundant leisure places and types. For instance, single women enjoy leisure activity and scarcely recognize the importance of the eects of natural environment on childrearing; housewives have nished raising children; and male retirees lead comfortable lives in terms of time and nances. All these groups enjoy the merits the Tokyo area oers. It seems that the nation needs to discuss centralization in Tokyo considering that lifestyle aects the way the issue is viewed.
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