Tectonic geomorphology has played important roles in active fault studies in Japan. Following large historical earthquakes, the concept of active fault was formulated and detailed information has rapidly accumulated. This paper reviews the progress of active fault studies in Japan since the 1980s. The period 1980 to 1994 can be regarded as the matured period of active fault studies during seismic calm. The studies conducted during this period are categorized into the following: 1) excavation studies of active faults, 2) analytical studies of tectonic landform evolution based on dislocation models, 3) chronological studies supported by the development of age determination techniques, and 4) studies quantifying the rate of crustal deformation. In 1995, the Great Kobe Earthquake occurred. The earthquake triggered a seismically active period in Japan, and the active fault has become an important issue in disaster mitigation. The research in the decade after 1995 can be summarized as follows: 1) intensive investigations of active faults, 2) detailed large-scale mapping, 3) seismic reflection profiling, 4) long-term forecasts of earthquakes, 5) careful study of flexural deformation, and 6) overseas research on large destructive earthquakes. Then, the period since 2005 has witnessed the rediscovery of active faults, with research considering 1) the relations between the large earthquakes which often occurred in this period and their seismogenic active faults, 2) precise distribution of active faults, 3) the relations between active tectonics and geodetical movement, 4) the relations between interplate earthquakes and submarine active faults, and 5) the difficult problems of prevention against infrequent disasters like the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Additionally, since around 2006, some nuclear power plants have faced problems associated with active faults because some active faults had been overlooked or ignored in the seismic design of these plants. Active fault research now bears greater social responsibility.
This paper reviews glacial and periglacial geomorphology and associated studies on physical geography and Quaternary geology, undertaken by Japanese researchers during the last three decades. Major progress has been achieved in two aspects. First, overseas fieldwork in a wide range of polar and alpine regions has promoted understanding of present-day glacier and permafrost landforms, processes and sediments. The outcomes have greatly influenced domestic research, improving the interpretation of past glaciation and periglaciation in Japan. Second, Japanese studies have made significant contributions to the international research communities in applying tephrochronology to dating tills and periglacial structures, proposing a distinct feature of glacial advances possibly reflecting climate conditions in eastern Asia, promoting comprehensive monitoring of periglacial processes and understanding periglacial processes in seasonal frost and marginal periglacial conditions.
The debate over gender emerged in the field of geography in Japan around 1990, and geographers began conducting case studies in the late 1990s. However, it cannot be denied that the geography of gender is a minority field in Japan. This paper attempts to explore how the geography of gender in Japan can be developed in the future. While the concept of gender is gradually becoming more common in geography, there is a fairly common tendency to reduce the concept of gender to an “extraction of gender differences” and regard it as an issue only for women. It is not insignificant to map gender differences and tackle the issues of women’s spaces. They are suited to ascertaining spaces from macro- or meso-scales. The issue is whether such research studies (and researchers) are aware of the positional relationship between the research subjects and themselves. This is because by highlighting the current spatial issues of gender while adopting a reflective perspective on power relations and researchers’ own gender relations, stances aimed at resolving various types of discrimination can be discussed. Furthermore, there are some reservations around thinking of the issues of gender independently. Within Japanese human geography, many “geographies” currently exist for each research subject. In order to clarify the structure of inequality and the oppression borne from intersecting several axes of distinction, including gender, it is necessary for segmented “geographies” to have a theoretical framework common to all its foundations. For the geography of gender, it is not always necessary to look at a research subject from a neutral standpoint. This is because research studies that view gender as an issue cannot help but focus on the power relations. A critical stance is being sought.
This article examines research on modern India carried out by Japanese geographers, specifically since the 1980s. The studies were undertaken during a period corresponding with partial economic liberalization during the 1980s and full-fledged economic liberalization since 1991, when India’s transition from stagnant to dynamic became apparent. This paper investigates a variety of factors in India’s development. First it examines research relating to the changes in agriculture and the rural development that were key to India’s economic development. Second, it examines the dynamic features bringing about major regional changes as part of economic liberalization to include reorganization of spatial structures pertaining to industrialization and the formation of new industrial regions, the progression of urbanization and development of major cities, and economic growth. During this period, the research conducted by Japanese geographers yielded many important achievements and results based on fieldwork. Because the research has been conducted in an era of economic liberalization and rapid economic growth, there are a number of studies that provide insights into the socioeconomic changes in India’s cities, villages, and the mechanisms behind them. However, research studies on metropolitan cities and on the spatial structures of a nationwide scale have only just got underway, and we hope for more systematic research on them in the future.
Fertility decline and population aging are progressing rapidly in Japan. To develop an appropriate welfare system to accommodate this aging society, coupled with low fertility, welfare reform has been implemented in Japan since around 2000. Demographic and political changes have stimulated Japanese geographers to study welfare-related issues. Since the latter half of the 1990s, many reports in the literature of Japanese geographical circles have described welfare issues. This article is intended to introduce geographical studies that have specifically examined welfare issues in Japan. There are three themes of the studies: 1) provision of welfare services, especially elderly care services and childcare services; 2) community reorganization to cope with an aging society; and 3) housing problems of vulnerable groups, including single elderly people, female-headed households, and homeless people. This article presents a review of existing geographical studies of each theme, and presents some themes for additional study.
This article reviewes the research trends in Nature and Society Studies authored by Japanese geographers, which have appeared in academic journals in the geography field in Japan from the 1980s onwards; these are organized into three categories, “land-use and subsistence activities,” “biological resources and subsistence activities” and “the environment and resources.” In two of the categories of “land-use and subsistence activities” and “biological resources and subsistence activities,” there has been substantial research conducted which deals with cases in developing countries. Yet, research on domestic activities in Japan where significant economic development has already been achieved remains scarce. The reason for this seems to be that research dealing with domestic agriculture, forestry, livestock and fishery conducted from the geographical perspective has not emphasized the subsistence aspect of these activities but rather these were considered as a part of industries. Accordingly, the majority of research in these areas is conducted from the perspective of economic geography. In regards to the research on “the environment and resources,” it became evident that Nature and Society Studies has not yet determined what type of approach should be taken to analyze the environment/resource use and environmental perception. The Nature and Society Study Group represents a new field in Japanese geography but its significance for research on human–nature interactions has gradually come to be recognized in the community of Japanese geographers through various activities including symposiums. Preparing for and coping with natural hazards, the environment and development, sustainable resource use, environmental change and survival are all the targets of Nature and Society Studies, and research in these areas is expected to develop in the future.
GIS studies in Japan started to develop in the 1970s. At this time, quantitative geographers committed to GIS, and came to grips with methods to implement quantitative analysis, together with computer mapping. In the 1980s, spatial analysis with GIS emerged. With the spread of PCs at the beginning of the 1990s it became possible even for non-GIS specialists to use GIS; hence, empirical studies using GIS became popular in various fields of geography. Previously, GIS research in Japan was dominated mainly by GIS theories and techniques from the West, but with the advent of the 21st century, GIS research originating from Japan could also be found. In order to advance further GIS research, it is necessary to implement studies closely related to society. It is important to understand the needs of the public and citizens precisely, and to put research into practice that makes use of GIS for the benefit of Japanese society. Armed with refined GIS techniques, new methodological approaches are expected to affect positively urban planning and regional policy.
This paper aims to review geographical studies on manufacturing industries in Japan over the past two decades, with particular focus on industrial agglomeration, the geography of large manufacturing firms, and industrial regions. Academic discussions on industrial agglomerations in Japan have shared some common subjects with those in North America and Europe, but took a different direction from the latter in the Japanese economic context. Empirical studies on industrial agglomeration have been tackled from diverse viewpoints. It is not easy to sum up their main view. In order to prevent the discussion from scattering, empirical studies have to be particularly sensitive to the geographic scale and its spatial characteristics. It is also important that the many theoretical works, conducted more than in other countries, provide the common base of discussion in empirical studies. Since the 1990s, globalization has brought about a rise in foreign direct investment in Asia through Japanese multi-national enterprises (MNEs), and at the same time, “hollowing out” of industries appeared on the Japanese manufacturing landscape. However, studies on shifting spatial systems within Japanese manufacturing remain insufficient in their attempt to understand the real character of spatial systems in terms of the international division of labor in East and South Asia. It is necessary to take up the following three issues both theoretically and empirically: first, the production systems of the Japanese MNEs in East and South Asian countries; second, inter-regional and international division of labor in East and South Asia; and third, the repercussions of locating abroad and offshoring manufacturing on industrial regions within the home country. Relocation abroad and offshoring of manufacturing have brought about an unequal development among industrial regions. Empirical work on the economic and social effects through the increasing reorganization of industrial regions has emerged as important. In addition to these issues, seeking an alternative system of local manufacturing for survival, creating high-value-added jobs and innovative activities, poses the emerging challenge in the study of this sphere.
The purposes of this study are to summarize the achievements of recent transportation geography in Japan since 1990s and to reconsider the changing trends based on socioeconomic changes in Japan. Additionally, issues which should be addressed by transportation geographers are reviewed. Most recent studies of transportation geography have concerned automobile transportation and regional public transportation. Many studies on automobile transportation have been found in Japanese transportation geography: diffusion of motorization and its effect on regional structure until the mid-1990s, and the effect of transportation infrastructure, including highways, until the mid-2000s. Meanwhile, micro-scale studies on regional public transportation have increased since the early 2000s. In other words, the interest of Japanese transportation geography has shifted from the positive effects of transportation to the issues confronting regional public transportation. The following can be pointed out as factors of the change: drastic socioeconomic changes since the 1990s such as a protracted recession, an easing of regulations, and an aging society. Transportation geographers are needed to address the following issues. The first is the construction and operation of flexible types of transportation, such as DRT (Demand Responsive Transportation), to correspond to regional characteristics from a short-term standpoint. The second issue is improvements in the regional structure, including spatial distribution of the population and essential facilities from a long-term standpoint. An approach from a transportation geography perspective is important for resolving the issues on public transportation with consideration of regional characteristics.
This paper provides an overview of the trends in Japan’s geographical studies on islands by tabulating all academic papers published from 1907 through 2012. The paper offers a bird’s-eye perspective on the overall research trends as well as identifying more specific trends based on the research results since the 1980s in each of the research fields. There were five waves when islands were actively studied. Of the two categories of geographical island studies, Group 2 rooted in systematic geography made great advances after the 1980s. In addition to the studies on agriculture, settlement and fishery which had always been popular, there was an increase in the number of studies concerning new human phenomena, such as tourism, transportation and population. In contrast, Group 1 studies on island theory and island policy have not progressed since the 1980s. Better organization of researchers involved in island studies and more active research exchanges can lead to the vitalization of island studies within Japan’s geographical studies. It is anticipated that this will also serve to revive and further develop studies on island theory and island policy. Hereafter, island studies must research practical achievements in response to the various problems faced by islands, including the issues of land use, ecology, and aging population combined with the diminishing number of children. Further, through collaborations with researchers abroad and empirical studies on the issues of the islands of the world in this global age, there is a possibility that theories applicable to Japanese islands may be reconstructed from a global point of view.