Tuesday, August 11, 2009

[東京都 p9] 戦争 : War

The Meiji Restoration 明治維新
"Enrich the country, strengthen the military" 富国強兵

"The Meiji restoration was not peaceful handover of power. In Edo some 2000 Tokugawa loyalist put up a futile last-ditch resistance to imperial forces in the brief Battle of Ueno. The struggle took place around the temple, Kanei-ji that was one of the Edo's two mortuary temples for the Tokugawa shogunate.

meijiIn 1868, the emperor moved the seat of imperial power from Kyoto to Edo, renaming the city Tokyo-eastern capital-in the process. In some ways it was less a restoration than a revolution. The Japanese underwent a crash course in industrialization and militarization, and by 1889 the country had instituted a Western style constitution.

In remarkably little time, Japan achieved military victories over China and Russia and embarked on modern, Western-style empire-building, with the annexation of Taiwan then Korea and Micronesia. During the Meiji period, changes that were taking place all over Japan could be seen most prominently in the country's new capital city.

Tokyo's rapid industrialization, uniting around the nascent Zaibatsu, drew job seekers from around Japan, causing the population to grow rapidly." -- reference

from 'I Saw Tokyo Burning' by Robert Guillain:
"They set to work at once, sowing the sky with fire. Bursts of light flashed everywhere in the darkness like Christmas trees, lifting their flame high into the night, then fell back to earth in whistling bouquets of jagged flame.

Barely quarter of an hour after the raid started, the fire, whipped by the wind, began to scythe its way through the density of that wooden city."

1945 : The most destructive bombing raids in history.
Over 50% of Tokyo was destroyed by the end of World War II.
Unexploded U.S. bombs were still being found and recovered in Tokyo as late as 2008.

"Despite the drive to modernity that encouraged the rise of a sophisticated and highly qualified planning profession in Japan, the actual achievements in terms of liveability of cities were modest. The wartime destruction of many of the Japanese cities and Tokyo in particular, where 750,000 houses were destroyed by fire-bombing, created a wholly new situation for reconstructive urban planning after 1945. Once again, disaster gave rise to opportunity . . . the reconstruction period provided an opportunity for comprehensive urban renewal that was eagerly seized, building upon the experience of the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake.

The plans for rebuilding Tokyo were the most ambitious of all Japan's post-war reconstruction. One-third of the total Japanese urban rebuilding was planned to take place there. Led by the TMG, the plan drew upon the metropolitan green space planning of the pre-war period, with green belts and corridors and wide boulevards, together with the rebuilding of the city at a greatly reduced population density. The 1946 plan that expressed these aims took Tokyo as a clean slate onto which any new urban form could be mapped. Its ambitions captured the idealism of the now well-established urban planning movement.

The plan turned out to be both the most idealistic and the least fully achieved of all the reconstruction plans. As in other cities, visionary plans committed to paper proved hard to realise in practice. The sheer size and expense of the task was such that many specific projects were cancelled, with priority going to transportation. In any event, rapid economic growth overtook all such aspirations. With the national government pressing for GDP growth at all costs, Tokyo planning was overwhelmed by rapid urban and industrial expansion. "
-- 'Tokyo: the Mobile Megalopolis' from 'Cities in Transition' by Nirmala Rao

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