Topics: Akihabara, Industry, Chiyoda, Tokyo Pages: 57 (6455 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Kazuhito YAMADA
Doctorate Course, Hosei Graduate School of Regional Policy Design ABSTRACT: This paper is a policy thesis aimed at the revitalization of Akihabara (Tokyo, Japan), an area that has declined economically in recent years. Akihabara is known around the world for its concentration of electro-domestic retailing, but the reality is that there are a number of industries concentrated there. An important issue addressed in this paper is the mechanism of the industrial district. Accordingly, this paper shall examine how Akihabara’s Industrial district has evolved, through a historical analysis and observation of case examples over the past 60+ years of continuous industrial concentration in Akihabara following the end of WWII. The results show that there is an apparent external economy functioning in Akihabara and this external economy has contributed to the evolution of the Akihabara industrial district. Moreover, 4 distinct phases were observed with regard to the developmental mechanism of the Akihabara industrial district (an evolutionary process). These phases are: 1. Cost saving; 2. Increase in revenues; 3. Increase in added values; 4. Diminishing returns due to a negative lock-in effect (an industry starts to decline, companies make strategic changes but large switching costs prevent real change). Furthermore, in Akihabara current overall demand is decreasing due to industries in Akihabara entering phase 4. Corporations doing business in Akihabara (in particular small- and mid-sized businesses) require a way to break the negative lock-in effect. If businesses cannot remedy this situation, prospects for new industries and the revitalization of Akihabara are pessimistic. Policies are required to develop a regional business ecosystem(milieu) that allows simple businesses to flourish in the Akihabara region, with the occasional injection of fresh DNA (information, etc.) from inside and outside the region(milieu) that allows companies to react and adapt to the prevailing market environment.


business ecosystems(milieu), corporate strategy, industrial district, Time Map Analysis


Weber’s theories were based on businesses grouping

This paper outlines theories regarding mechanisms

in areas that had simple geographical advantages that

of the Akihabara industrial district, based on case

translated to lower transportation and labor costs and

examples. An Industrial district can be defined as a

these factors could be clearly used to classify an


industrial district.





concentrated into a relatively small area, in this case
Akihabara (Itami, Matsushima, Kikkawa 1988).

Furthermore, A. Marshall postulates that even if





Firstly, an examination of industrial district theory.

geographical location are lost, the binds that tie

Research into location theory mechanisms with

businesses together in an Industrial district can

regard to industrial districts takes its lineage from M.

sustain the district over the long term. In short, from

Weber (Yamamoto, 2005).

the theoretical perspective of industrial district

research, the mechanism can be examined by

corporations or similar entities, have influenced

looking at the geographical benefits and the

Akihabara and they have all fed a specific industrial

consequent advantages of businesses concentrating

district in their respective fields. For more details on

in one location.

the historical analysis (Time Map Analysis), refer to
Fig. 1: Akihabara: Development and Innovation. Fig.

Akihabara was formerly known as Kanda Radio

1 is based on interviews, participant observations,

Kadoya Town and in its current incarnation as


Akihabara Electric Town, in the 60+ years since the

interviews with authors of prior...
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