The Future of Japanese Urbanization: Technological Wonderland or Robotized Dystopia?

Pizzolo Paolo (2023) The Future of Japanese Urbanization: Technological Wonderland or Robotized Dystopia? In: Cities in Asia. Budapesti Gazdasági Egyetem, Budapest, Magyarország, pp. 65-86. ISBN 978-615-6342-64-5

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Since the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Japan transformed itself from a closed late-feudal society into a modernizing state increasingly integrated in the global economic and political system. Despite the reactionary interwar expansionist momentum inspired by chauvinistic Tennoism, after 1945 Japan pursued a new path towards economic modernization becoming in less than fifty years an avantgarde of post-modernity and one of the world’s wealthiest societies. This modernization, which came along with technological development and investment, deeply affected Japanese urban conception. While public and private initiative have been mobilized towards the achievement of outstanding economic growth and massive increases in standards of living, the benefits of economic growth have been undermined by persistent urban concerns like high land prices, low housing standards, and environmental pollution. However, in the future the major factor that is expected to affect Japanese urban development is demographic change, with a drop to half the current level of almost 130 million people by the end of the 21st century. The rapid ageing of Japanese society, low demographic expectations, swift decline in the workforce, and restrictions of foreign immigration are factors that project a slowdown of human urbanization in the future, with a decline in the need for new housing and other urban investment. At the same time, technological development and urban robotization in the frame of “smart city” programs will forge a new Japanese urban identity hinging on robotics. In this frame, this article wishes to investigate the impact of technological development on future Japanese urbanization asking whether robotics will have the capacity to tackle Japanese demographic decline without leading towards substantial social changes or whether it will transform Japanese cities into dystopic post-human artifacts. The creation of futuristic Japanese hyper-smart cities could boost structural vulnerabilities originating from an overdependence on cybernetic capacities and Artificial Intelligence.

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Budapesti Gazdasági Egyetem

Item Type: Book Section
CreatorsORCIDMTMT szerző azonosító
Pizzolo Paolo0000-0003-4066-2968
Uncontrolled Keywords: Japan, smart cities, internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), transhumanism
Depositing User: Eszenyi-Bakos Kinga
DOI id:
Date Deposited: 2023. Aug. 07. 15:20
Last Modified: 2023. Aug. 07. 15:20

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