This very interesting article from New Geography examines Tokyo and the substantial growth of its suburbs—now the world’s largest metropolitan suburban population—over the past several decades.
“Tokyo is the ultimate in urbanization, being nearly one-half larger than any other urban area in the world. Further,Tokyo has retained its position as the largest urban area in the world for longer than any period since London’s approximately 100 year run from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. During the 1920s, New York became the largest, but was displaced by Tokyo in 1955.
“Tokyo became the world’s largest urban area by adding more than 20 million people between 1955 and 2000, adding more people than lived in any other urban area in the world during that period. Even with its now slow growth, Tokyo seems likely to remain number one for two decades or more. However, if the breakneck growth of urban areas like Jakarta, Delhi and Manila continues, Tokyo could relinquish its position by 2030, especially if Tokyo begins losing population, joining Japan in that country’s accelerating rate of population decline as is projected….
“The Tokyo region is much more than Tokyo proper (the “ku-area”). It includes Yokohama, which with 3.7 million people is larger than any suburb in the world except for Howrah in the Calcutta area. Kawasaki, between Tokyo and Yokohama has a population of 1.4 million, while Saitama, to the north has 1.2 million. Chiba, on the way to Narita International Airport, is home to nearly 1,000,000. There are multiple possible definitions of theTokyo region. This article defines theTokyo metropolitan area as Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tokyo prefectures….
“Suburban Areas: Tokyo also has the largest suburban population of any metropolitan region in the world. Approximately 26.7 million, or 75 percent of the Tokyo region’s 35.4 million population lives in suburban areas. This is the largest expanse of suburbanization in the world. The suburban population increase since 1950 exceeds that of New York, Los Angeles, and Paris combined….
“Tokyo is unique in having abolished its core municipality. In 1943, the former city of Tokyo was combined with the prefecture of Tokyo. This area was also labeled the Tokyo “metropolis.”… The prefecture of Tokyo contained a number of additional municipalities, which were not impacted by the merger, while the former area of the city of Tokyo was directly administered by the prefecture. In the intervening decades, the former city has been reorganized into 23 wards (ku), which have obtained considerable self-government authority, emerging as the near equivalent of cities themselves.
“This “ku” area can be considered the historical core municipality. The 23 ku reached a peak population in 1965 of 8.893 million in 1965. In the next 30 years, the 23 ku sustained a population loss of more than 900,000, while the suburban areas were adding more than 20 million. The ku area exceeded its previous peak in the 2010 census, reaching 8.946 million, approximately 50,000 more than in 1965.”