Symbolic Use of Globalization in Urban Politics in Tokyo


Since the 1980s, more complicatedly interwoven forces of globalized capital, central and local states, and growth‐oriented local actors have produced not a single form but variations of global city formation. In the reconstruction process of postindustrial cities, the concept of globalization does not necessarily provide a dominating and self‐sufficient story, but actually acts as a symbolic catalyst which stimulates them to establish a new urban regime on the basis of more exclusive political powers. This article investigates why Tokyo, though lacking in consensus about such a change, once succeeded and then failed in establishing a political coalition for urban restructuring. For newly‐emergent global cities such as Tokyo, ‘globalization’ had two different local impacts on urban restructuring: a substantial one derived from the economic interests of globalized capital; and a symbolic one manipulated by local dominating political actors. Globalization as a political symbol took on an ideological role by both masking pre‐modern traits behind the coalition and giving postmodern appearances to it. But, concurrently with this, as a social cleavage has developed from an influx of foreign workers, the meaning of globalization has shifted to a more conflicting one.