Reconstructing Kobe
328 pages, 6 x 9
45 b&w photos, 21 maps, 28 charts, 27 tables
Release Date:01 Jan 2011
Release Date:15 Mar 2010
Release Date:01 Jan 2011

Reconstructing Kobe

The Geography of Crisis and Opportunity

UBC Press

Six thousand people died and hundreds of thousands lost their homes when the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Kobe in January 1995. It was the largest disaster to affect postwar Japan and one of the most destructive postwar natural disasters to strike a developed country. Although the media focused on the disaster’s immediate effects, the long-term reconstruction efforts have gone largely unexplored.

Drawing on fieldwork and interviews with planners, activists, and bureaucrats, David Edgington records the first ten years of reconstruction and recovery efforts and offers detailed descriptions of the geography of crisis and opportunity. Which districts were most vulnerable to quake and why? Did policy makers and planners exploit opportunities to revitalize the city and make it more sustainable and disaster proof? Edgington’s intricate investigation of Japanese urban policy, local governance, and land use in stricken neighbourhoods reveals that Japan’s particular style of urban redevelopment hindered rather than hastened its ability to rebuild a devastated city.

An absorbing account of the largest urban-planning redevelopment effort in Japanese history and the disaster that caused it, Reconstructing Kobe offers real-world solutions to urban planners and policy makers and is essential reading for students and scholars of Japanese urban and planning history.

Reconstructing Kobe offers real-world solutions to urban planners and policy makers and will appeal to students and scholars of Japanese urban and planning history.

David Edgington’s fine analysis of the Kobe earthquake (officially known as the Hanshin Awaji Great Earthquake) places the event within a wider context of urban planning and disaster planning in Japan and examines the long-term impact of the earthquake. In so doing, it provides the reader with one of the most precise dissections of the Japanese planning system that has yet been written, as well as furnishing a profound insight into the various aspects of urban Japan. Paul Waley, Urban Studies, 49:1151-1153
Edgington presents a richly descriptive account, based on meticulous data collection, of the urban planning and urban management aspects of Kobe’s long-term recovery from the Hanshin earthquake. The painstaking quality of the research is evident throughout the book, which imparts the key lessons of Kobe’s experience with disaster recovery. Keiichi Sato, University of Tokyo (Translated from the Japanese by Margaret Gibbons), Social Science Japan Journal, vol 14, no 2, Summer 2011
This is a well-organized, well-researched, accurate account of the main issues, decisions, and processes of reconstruction following the 1995 earthquake in Kobe ... The book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake, a major event in the history of Japanese planning, as well as the largest urban disaster in a developed economy since the Second World War [until Hurricane Katrina, that is]. Robert Olshansky, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This is the first book-length study of the Hanshin Earthquake and the reconstruction response. Disaster preparedness and reconstruction is, sadly, an increasingly important area of study, and Japan has both a long experience [of], and many distinctive approaches to, urban disaster recovery and rebuilding. This excellent study of Japan’s largest postwar urban disaster is thorough, timely, and relevant. André Sorensen, Department of Geography and Programme in Planning, University of Toronto
David W. Edgington is a former director of the Centre for Japanese Research and an associate professor of geography at the University of British Columbia.


1 Introduction

2 Earthquakes and Urban Reconstruction

2.1 The Problem of Post-Disaster Reconstruction

2.2 Japanese Planning and Administrative Practice

3 Kobe and the Hanshin Earthquake

3.1 Kobe up to the Time of the Earthquake

3.2 The Geography of Crisis

4 The Planning and Reconstruction Response

4.1 Actions Taken by the National Government

4.2 Actions Taken by Local Government

5 Protest, Participation, and the Phoenix Plan

5.1 The Citizens’ Protest

5.2 The City’s Response and the Commencement of "Machizukuri" Planning

5.3 The Phoenix Reconstruction Plan

5.4 Review by the National Government

6 Neighbourhood Case Studies

6.1 Shin-Nagata in Western Kobe

6.2 Moriminami in Eastern Kobe

7 Symbolic Projects and the Local Economy

7.1 Funding for the Symbolic Projects

7.2 Kobe’s Economy and the Plight of Small Firms

7.3 The Chemical Shoes Industry

7.4 Attracting New Industries and Firms

7.5 The Kobe Airport and the City’s Debt

8 Conclusion

8.1 Was the Ten-Year Reconstruction Plan Successful?

8.2 What Were the Major Influences on Kobe’s Reconstruction?

8.3 The Geographies of Crisis and Opportunity

8.4 Lessons for Japanese Cities

8.5 Are There Lessons for Other Cities?




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