Monday, September 12, 2005

Govt. Considers Restrictions on Suburban Retail Development

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is considering further restrictions on the development of suburban retail centers, in order to revitalize small town centers, previously hubs of economic activity, but many of which now lie neglected. The measures could be put forward to the Diet next year.

The proposal increases the permit requirements to include an economic and social impact assessment, including the projected amount of public infrastructure needed to support each project. In addition, planning regulations for non-urban areas will be tightened.

Full Story (J) - Nikkei Marketing Journal

I think the proposed measures, if made into law, will only serve to cut off development in some areas altogether.

Town centers, which have multitudes of stakeholders, are very difficult to develop efficiently, and without a "Plan B" in which the government eases restrictions or assists retail developers to invest in town centers, the costs will simply be too high for them, thus contributing to the further deterioration of some town centers.

Revitalization of town centers is very important. But, without new investment and know-how, many of the traditional shopkeepers' associations would be hard put to keep up with the demands of the market. Japanese customers are very fickle, and will gladly drive for an hour to shop where they want to, instead of drive five minutes to shop at an unattractive and expensive local shotengai.

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