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Decline and approaches to revitalization in small cities: the case of Saga, Japan

Author(s): Munetoshi Yamashita

Journal: Dela
ISSN 0354-0596

Issue: 21;
Start page: 461;
Date: 2004;
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Keywords: settlement geography | urban geography | Japan

The study of urban geography has primarily focused on large cities, but geographic trendsaffecting smaller urban areas also merit the attention of researchers. The local economies ofsmaller municipalities in Japan, for example, have been more seriously damaged by therecession of the last decade than the economies of larger cities. Typically, store vacancieshave increased in small cities as a result of the recession. Moreover, the population of smallcities is aging rapidly, obscuring their prospects for the future.This paper examines the outcome of changes in the case of the small city of Saga, Japan,with particular attention to the decline of its urban center and its unsuccessful efforts atdowntown revitalization. As the center of Saga Prefecture in southwestern Japan, the city ofSaga performs communication, education, administrative, and cultural functions that aresignificant in the local and regional economy. As in other small cities in Japan, the downtownof Saga has declined with the regional economy in recent years. The outlook forSaga's urban environment is serious, with increasing urban problems anticipated. In response,downtown revitalization and redevelopment efforts have been undertaken, but thesehave been unsuccessful. This study concludes that a lack of both public participation andclear policy purpose were contributing factors in the failure of Saga’s revitalization efforts.
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