Taiheiyō Belt

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A map of the Taiheiyō Belt showing the Tōkaidō and Sanyō shinkansen routes.

The Taiheiyō Belt (太平洋ベルト?, Taiheiyō beruto, literally "Pacific Belt"), also known as the Tokaido corridor, is the name for the megalopolis in Japan extending from Ibaraki Prefecture in the north to Fukuoka Prefecture in the south, running for almost 1,200 km (750 mi).

The urbanization zone runs mainly along the Pacific coast (hence the name) of Japan from Kantō region to Osaka, and the Inland Sea (on both sides) to Fukuoka, and is concentrated along the Tōkaidō-Sanyō rail corridor. A view of Japan at night clearly shows a rather dense and continuous strip of light (demarcating urban zones) that delineates the region.[1]

The high population is particularly due to the large plains – the Kantō Plain, Kinai Plain, and Nōbi Plain – which facilitate building in mountainous Japan. Coastal regions are at high risk of earthquakes and tsunamis, due to the nearby Nankai Trough (Nankai megathrust earthquakes) and Sagami Trough, notably the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, and further damaging earthquakes are expected in the region; the combination of population density and seismic activity is responsible for the high-impact earthquake and tsunami risk in Japan.

Although it contains the majority of Japan's population, references to it in Japanese are mainly economic or regional in nature. The term was first used in 1960 in an Economic Commission Subcommittee Report formed to double the national income.[citation needed] At that time, it was identified as the core of the nation's industrial complex. Other than the Miyagi area damaged by the 2011 tsunami, nearly all manufacturing industry in the nation lies in this zone, accounting for 81% of the nation's economic output in 2007 (about 4-5 trillion USD).

The region is specifically defined by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry as the following prefectures: Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Osaka, Hyogo, Wakayama, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka and Oita.[2] As economic development (along with urban development) spilled over to nearby regions, they were added to this list.[3]

The Sea of Japan has a much less well-developed string of cities, called Ura-nippon (裏日本?) (literally back of Japan), stretching 1000 km from Akita to Yamaguchi. It is often referenced in relation to the Taiheiyo belt. The Shinkansen line south (and west) of Tokyo runs the course through the belt cities.

Major cities[edit]

A nighttime satellite photo comparison (to scale) of the Northeast Megalopolis in the United States (top) and the Taiheiyō Belt (bottom).
Major cities of Taiheiyō Belt

Listed from north to south:

city[4] region including population
(2010)
GDP
(million US$)
Greater Mito Kantō Hitachinaka 678,969 30,258
Greater Tsukuba Kantō Tsuchiura 847,292 37,132
Greater Tokyo Kantō Saitama, Chiba, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Sagamihara 34,834,167 1,797,899
Greater Numazu Chūbu Mishima 509,249 22,888
Greater Shizuoka Chūbu Yaizu, Fujieda 1,001,597 45,840
Greater Hamamatsu Chūbu Iwata, Fukuroi 1,133,879 54,258
Greater Toyohashi Chūbu Toyokawa 676,333 31,001
Greater Nagoya Chūbu Ichinomiya, Kasugai, Kuwana, Kani 5,490,453 256,290
Greater Yokkaichi Chūbu Suzuka 621,689 29,072
Greater Kyoto Kansai Uji, Otsu, Kusatsu 2,679,094 115,258
Greater Osaka Kansai Sakai, Higashiosaka, Nishinomiya, Nara 12,273,041 516,775
Greater Kobe Kansai Akashi, Kakogawa, Takasago 2,431,076 96,004
Greater Himeji Kansai Tatsuno 784,365 33,587
Greater Wakayama Kansai Iwade 584,852 24,592
Greater Tokushima Shikoku Anan 680,467 28,384
Greater Okayama Chūgoku Kurashiki, Sōja 1,532,146 63,101
Greater Takamatsu Shikoku Marugame 830,040 34,722
Greater Fukuyama Chūgoku Onomichi 764,838 31,518
Greater Hiroshima Chūgoku Hatsukaichi, Fuchu-cho 1,141,848 61,345
Greater Matsuyama Shikoku Iyo 642,841 24,509
Greater Kitakyushu Kyushu Nogata, Nogata 1,370,169 55,693
Greater Fukuoka Kyushu Kasuga, Chikushino, Itoshima 2,495,552 101,644
Greater Ōita Kyushu Beppu 743,323 28,881

May also include:[citation needed]

city region including population GDP
(million US$)
Greater Kumamoto Kyushu Uki, Kōshi 1,102,398 39,763

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Satellite images of stable night time lights in Japan
  2. ^ "地域活性化戦略(案)資料" (pdf) (in Japanese). Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. p. 4. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Bullet Train". Japan Deluxe Tours. Retrieved May 26, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Urban Employment Area". Center for Spatial Information Science, The University of Tokyo. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 

Coordinates: 35°00′00″N 136°00′00″E / 35.0000°N 136.0000°E / 35.0000; 136.0000