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5.7. New Urban Commons: Empowerment and Selffulfillment in Post-Growth Japan

Christian Dimmer (Tokyo)

Di, 5.7.2016, 18:00, Oettingenstraße 67, Raum L 155, München

Japan is a country in profound socio-economic and demographic transformation. During the boom years of the 1980s a firm belief in unrestrained, perpetual economic growth and material prosperity had evolved around mass consumerism. This illusion vanished suddenly with the burst of Japan's infamous asset price bubble in autumn 1991— leading to economic stagnation and anxiety about the future. The years following the 'bubble economy' thus came to be widely known as the 'lost decade(s).' While this gloomy narrative of Japan's inevitable decline is still prominent, an alternative, far more positive reading is possible: It is the encouraging story of a dawning post-growth society whose seeds we may be seeing in Japan’s quickly multiplying new urban commons. It is a story of empowerment, careful treatment of natural resources, of a newly awaking do-it-yourself spirit, of creative problem solving, and of sharing precious time, space, or goods.

Christian Dimmer teaches Urban Studies at Waseda University's School of International Liberal Studies (SILS).