A Handbook of Industrial Districts
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A Handbook of Industrial Districts

Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis

In this comprehensive original reference work, the editors have brought together an unrivalled group of distinguished scholars and practitioners to comment on the historical and contemporary role of industrial districts (IDs).
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Chapter 39: Industrial Districts in Japan

Yoshiyuki Okamoto


Yoshiyuki Okamoto 1. Introduction In Japan, with local regional vitalization being a pressing political subject in recent years, industrial policy and regional policy at the national and local level have included a focus on industrial districts (IDs) and the creation and development of industrial clusters. This issue has attracted much attention from researchers in various fields, such as economics, sociology, management and geography. Various organizations related to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including government organizations, local governments, think tanks and consultants, have also carried out several related researches. Many of these studies, however, merely give empirical illustrations of successful cases. There are few theoretical analyses or empirical studies beyond the level of case study. Unlike in Europe and the US, ‘schools’ developing original methodological points have not been formed in Japan. Moreover, research exchanges with overseas scholars are very limited, and foreign-cited articles are limited to those written in English. Also, most measures by the national and local governments for IDs or clusters do not have a theoretically-based ground. This chapter reviews research conducted in Japan on IDs and related forms of industrial and local development (Section 2), describes the present situation of these forms (Section 3), and introduces some cases: Bishu, the place of woollen textiles; Tsubame, the place of metal goods; Hamamatsu, the place of textiles, musical instruments and motorcycles; and Ota-ku, the place of machine parts (Section 4). Section 5 describes how Japan has been coping with globalization in recent years. 2. The debate on IDs in...

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