Background and overview

The capital city of Japan,  the name "Tokyo" in Japanese dialect literally means 'Eastern Capital'. It is the largest city in Japan, located near the Kantō region, the southeastern side of the main island that Japan is made up of.  Surprisingly a common misconception about Tokyo that it is a singular city. However, upon closer inspection, Tokyo is actually a hybrid of a prefecture and a city. It is the only place in the world to show such unique characteristics, combining 23 different municipalities, 26 smaller cities and 4 sub-prefectures to form the location we know as Tokyo. The entire city itself covers a lengthy 2,187.66 km^2, whereas its metro (underground railway) system spans across 13,572 km^2.  It is considered as an EMDC

Tokyo offers education from elementary and primary schools, which are run by local municipals, while secondary schools are run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education.  These publicly run schools can be attended by any Japanese citizens for free, after Japan passed their "free school tuition free" act in around 1980, following the example of many other countries. Whilst the city is highly modernised, it is still able to maintain its sense of authenticity of culture through specific guidelines. For example, Tokyo is ranked number 1 in the entire world for being the cleanest city, which can be traced to the exceptional civic education in Japanese schools. Students are taught to be honourable, code-abiding and rational citizens. This is a contrast from that in China, where such values are not stressed as much, leading to less clean streets (as far as the citizens are concerned, they haven't done anything wrong). Traditional parks and architecture such as the Tokyo Imperial Palace can still be seen today in mint condition,  due to the respect the nation has for culture and identities.

Here is a map of the metropolitan area of Tokyo

Rapid growth in Tokyo has started in 1920, leading it to become currently one of the most technologically advanced cities, as well as one of the cities with the highest standard of life. This can be clearly seen through the patterns in Tokyo's population growth, which is displayed in the graph below.


1. Why is Japan's standard of life so high?

2.Does Japan's history of strict discipline directly affect the way citizens are raised?

3.Can cities actually benefit from this form of strict discipline?

Well to answer the first question, we have to look at the urban and metropolitan growth of Tokyo. Something that differs China from Japan is the acceptance of western methods of development. While China is still developing steadily, Japan grew at a much fast rate, and certain comparisons can be drawn from both. While in their own respect, China has achieved many technological feats, it cannot quite be compared the pinnacle of scientific discovery and invention that is sustainable, that Japan is achieving. Take the bullet train for example. China is many times larger than Japan, yet relies on trains that produce twice the amount of greenhouse gases and other harmful gases, while Japan has a fast, slick, bullet train system that relies on magnetic levitation, which has considerably less pollutants created. Apply this to every area in life, and there you have Japan, a completely sustainable nation.

Of course, this directly affects the civilians and facilities. Unlike China, Japan is very mindful of its cleanliness, as can be seen simply by walking upon streets of both countries. Tokyo is never absent from top lists of cleanliness, while Chinese cities almost certainly are. Another reason is because taxes in Tokyo are very high. While one might complain, others realise that the extra money given through taxes are all to improve their standard of life, which it is certainly doing.

Going back to Japan's long cultural history, since feudal Japan and beyond, discipline has always been strictly enforced and encouraged everywhere. Samurais, warriors of feudal Japan followed a code of honour called 'Bushi-do'. This can be seen reflecting upon modern citizens of Japan, as they uphold a strong sense of honour, values, and code of ethics. This has led them to be able to manage themselves, and keep cities clean places. Also, something I witnessed myself was that in China, when there was a rush hour, a large bunch of people would be packed into the metro system, and there would be a lot of pushing and shoving. However, of the 4 Japanese cities I have visited before, this has not happened a single time, rather they all line up according to markings on the line. This really shows the amount of self-control and discipline that they have, and is probably one of the main reasons why Japan's standard of life is so high.


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