No Miracles Here
Fighting Urban Decline in Japan and the United States
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Compares urban revitalization efforts in two cities with failing industrial bases, one in the United States and the other in Japan.
This probing comparison of two struggling company towns, one in Japan and one in the United States, offers valuable urban revitalization lessons. The author compares urban revitalization efforts in Flint, Michigan, the declining automobile industry town, and Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, home of the largest coal mine in Japan, from the early 1970s through the early 1990s. Striking similarities emerge, both in the way redevelopment policy is made and in policy content. For example, both cities work to create new jobs, attract tourism, and diversify their economic bases. Despite these similarities, there are also differences that help the Japanese do a better job of managing socioeconomic decline. Notably, the Japanese system is better suited to effecting incremental improvements in local socioeconomic conditions, while the American system often takes the big gamble that, if successful, dramatically improves conditions. This gamble, however, can also result in a failure to reverse a city's economic decline. No Miracles Here finds that although Japanese and American cities rarely achieve truly successful revitalization, the Japanese have been more successful at avoiding the pitfalls of bad redevelopment policy.
Theodore J. Gilman is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Union College.
". ..represents the best kind of cross-national comparative work. The parallel stories of Flint and Omuta, punctuated by anecdotes about the personalities and institutions involved and the author's frank assessment of their activities make for interesting reading. " — Steven J. Ericson, author of The Sound of the Whistle: Railroads and the State in Meiji Japan