Geographical review of Japan, Series B.
Online ISSN : 2185-1700
Print ISSN : 0289-6001
ISSN-L : 0289-6001
The Japanese Urban System from the Standpoint of Large Private Firms' Head Offices and Branch Offices, 1995
Kazutoshi ABE
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2000 Volume 73 Issue 1 Pages 62-84


This paper aims to examine the current situation in Japan's largest cities and describe the Japanese urban system, by analyzing the distribution of the management function (head offices and branch offices) of the country's largest private firms. This study is based on data for 2, 241 private firms. The status of cities under study is compared from various standpoints. An attempt is made to throw light on the inter-connections between cities. Finally, a model of the urban system of major cities is proposed. Twenty-nine cities were chosen for study (Figure 1), each of which has more than 10 firm head offices or 300 branch offices (Table 2). Clearly, the largest number (919) of head offices is found in Tokyo. This is followed by Osaka, in which the head offices of 314 firms are located. However, it should be noted that in recent years, more and more firms have adopted the system of multiple head offices (Table 3). Including such firms, the number of private firms having their head offices in Tokyo is 1, 105, which represents 49.3% of the total.
Tokyo houses the largest number of branch offices, as well. As was the case for head offices, the city with the second largest number of branch offices is Osaka. After Tokyo and Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai, Hiroshima, and Sapporo are the cities with the most branch offices.
The author analyzed the hierarchical relationships of branch offices (Table 5), the type of industry (Table 6), city territories served by branch offices (Table 7 and Figure 4), head office and branch office size (Table 9) and inter-urban connectivity (Table 10). The author proposes a model for the urban system based on the findings of preceding analyses (Figure 6). This model clearly shows the complex networks of inter-connections established between major Japanese cities.

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