thumbnail of Asia Society presents; 18
Hide -
The Asia Society prison. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. I like to feel that one way east is meeting with us just through the idea of making Tokyo and New York City sister cities. And that idea was promulgated several years ago and I hope it's working out well. There is much that we have in common is two of the great capitals of the world. We have common problems common sorrows and perhaps what we do not have in common is our approach culturally and. Administratively to what is wrong. I think it will be most interesting to examine some of this on this edition of the present. And we're fortunate in having as our
guest a man who is well steeped in knowledge of Japan. He is Doctor author Burks who was director of into the study International Studies program at Rutgers University. He's the author of several books and one I'd like to bring to your attention because of this conversation. It is called The government of Japan. Now doctor when were we proclaimed in New York and Tokyo sister cities that was what about four or five years ago this was about four or five years ago just before the opening of the Olympic games prior to that I was in Mexico City in Tokyo in 1964. What does that mean actually. I mean it sounds nice symbolically. Well to some extent it has meant affiliation through service organizations business organizations and governmental groups. But I think in the case of New York and Tokyo it is also meant the exchange of information in this very awesome problem of city planning urban renewal human renewal the problem of the city and
in a world scope rather than just local. You spend some time in Japan. Yes I've been very fortunate to have gone back and forth numerous times since since the war. Have you lived in Tokyo for any extended period of time. Yes the last extended visit was in Tokyo where I was on the staff of a group that that works between New York and Tokyo. The International House of Japan and then also the Tokyo Metropolitan University which has an urban Study Center somewhat parallel to the Urban Studies Center in my own university. Your university connection now is Rutgers although you've been at a number of outstanding universities. They've all I wonder have you did in New York City in the metropolitan area so yeah I think 48 except when I was in a shot in Japan. Yes. So that living within 30 40 miles of New York City and in the Com commutation pattern of New York City I I think I probably call myself a New Yorker. Well aside from your being an American having lived in New York City and being loyal
to your country would you say that there's certain advantages to living in Tokyo which one wouldn't find in New York. Yes I think probably there are some advantages the one as a political scientist perhaps you forgive me in saying that when we begin to think about the problem of the city in Tokyo the most striking contrast is the fact. That most of the region covered by the metropolitan area of Tokyo is under one jurisdiction an urban state if you will. Somewhat like the District of Columbia because it is the capital but more in size like the city of New York this would be as though we had all of the area roughly from New Haven to Princeton under one governmental jurisdiction. This obviously gives great advantages in planning in planning the industrial growth in the Green Acre areas between the industrial growth and indeed an area roughly inscribed by a circle whose diameter is about 100 kilometers from Tokyo central station this would all be under
one administrative jurisdiction and you feel that makes that kind of government more efficient in dealing with the problems which afflict all cities today. Well in some ways it means that Tokyo is able to move more rapidly it may have other bureaucratic problems and of course when one comes to problems of air and water pollution amidst enormous growth. One of the record growth rates of the world the Administrative the single administrative jurisdiction has not been a great deal more successful than we have been in tackling problems of this sort. But as you explained to me the size of Japan is comparable to that of California in Lyon area about one hundred forty two thousand square miles at the population of the country is about one hundred million. Yes but you said 1 out of every 10 Japanese persons lives in Tokyo. Then the rest of the country is still with the rule sections is still highly populated. Yes that's true. Rural Japan is relative one still has
in about half the prefectures these are roughly the equivalent of our states out of some forty six prefectures in recent census counts the population has dropped dramatically. These are the agrarian the age Japan prefectures which life cardio Hern described a number of years ago and which with all due respect we we try to persuade people to go to sea as tourists in the other half of the prefectures mostly on the Pacific Coast zone which Remember would be the eastern side of Japan in a great corridor or running from Tokyo down through not go yeah which makes nobody talky China and automobiles down through the old urban complex of kilt on a cold day. The second largest port at Osaka where Expo 70 will be held. A year from the summer down to northern kyu Shu and its great steel complex this is now a vast urban corridor with very few breaks in very similar to that between flown over by the shuttle Queens between Boston and Washington
does that lead to a physical sense of overcrowding. Yes it does one is seldom lonely in Japan. You know Japan. Yes well but it's always said that you can be lonely in the midst of a crowd so that does mean that people know each other will get along well you know that's quite quite accurate in two ways. One to go back to your question about advantages there is a style of life among the middle class the new middle class what the Japanese call the white the cock the white collar middle class. Japan's capital Tokyo. People who commute out of what we call the donut city whose population maybe eight nine times as great during the day as it is at night they'll commute upwards of an hour an hour and a half to a plot of land which they can afford. A late marriage and which they've mortgaged their lives away to purchase and they're in a simulated small garden which will be some desperate attempt to reproduce the old traditional village roads. The middle class businessman will don the kimono and go into some kind of
isolation. The other kind of lonely crowd is precisely the individual in the lonely crowd of David Grisman. The individual in Tokyo who feels completely lost and alienated and this has been the subject of some of the greatest motion pictures in the world done by each car and other famous Japanese movie producers. It's been the subject of novels since making hundred new poetry. It's partly the subject of Carlotta recently won the Nobel Prize with his novels. Did you say something about a late marriage. Do men and women postpone matchy night of my life so that they can afford this little lad. I think the professional middle class does. Let's say the youngster whose mother prepares him for the correct nursery school to get into the correct primary school to get into the right secondary school to get into Tokyo University in order to go into the law or into business or into the government. And whose career therefore starts relatively late. Who must master
this problem of living in this gigantic urban complex. By and large does postpone marriage. I would say five six seven years beyond what we expect in this country marriage in university is not as common in Tokyo as it is here. More like the days when I went to college a number of years ago. Yes it was considered appalling for anyone to get dream of magic wand of distilling Sally. But since so many changes have been wrought in the social structure of Japan one might expect that that has taken place too but it hasn't. You mean the lowering of marriage yes and marrying while still it's go well of course Japan isn't great for mat with this enormous growth rate and urbanization there's a great deal of dissent in Japan too and certainly one of the things which one hears students say other than the the the the most violent the extreme wings of the student dissent movement swirling around Tokyo University at the present time for example would be an attempt to break up some aspects of this establishment and
lead education for Japan has. Has reached kind of a compromise they have mass education under UNESCO's to test its the highest literacy rate in the world. On the other hand the farther up the ladder one goes the more highly selective they've been. There are approximately eight thousand people applied to enter Tokyo University and only about one tenth of these ever makes it and far more men incidentally than women. But these standards and this elite hierarchical society which up to the present has been highly successful in the modernization of your musician is of course under under assault even at the present time. I understand that there is not so next an ecologist giving diplomas and universities in Japan so that if one didn't go to the University of Tokyo could one get a satisfactory education elsewhere. That's quite true and in there all the universities give degrees that are roughly equal. Just exactly perhaps in this country and if I'm quoted I'll deny it. There are. It is well known in Japan that certain
universities are vastly superior for purposes of certain careers to go into the higher levels of business or into the bureaucracy of the Japanese government one must be a graduate of Tokyo University this is still quite true. It's a passport to the best success will Korea and as you know a sense of concentration unknown in this country. Second thing I'd say is the great concentration of the major universities in the city of Tokyo. There is an imbalance in the suns the great concentration of skills. It is in the city of Tokyo. Other universities the older the other five six former imperial universities Kildall not going to hold Sendai killed Kyoto and Northern kyu Shu. These also have fairly high prestige then there are several famous private universities. Nope best known in this country RKO which is produced a lot of the higher level management of the textile industry and was a DA and then some others it could be mentioned but it is well
known that for certain careers one would go to certain schools. Yes but as it's true here that's in any part of the world and I've had the college I suppose a still more helpful although I think that's breaking down to some extent yes I do think even in this century we're going to be tied of people you see that they've gone back to some well even if you go call it it hasn't hurt them in getting ahead. This is quite true and I think it's one of the contrasts and it may well be. Why although our Japanese friends tell us that they invented the student demos or demonstrations and they were engaged in as far back as 10 years ago. Now they're coming back to Japan in a different form as they are in France and in Italy for the reform of this highly selective elitist educational system and this is one of the issues at work in Europe and Japan. Well depressing as it is to be turned given problems I suppose we should. Yes we thought in advance that we might explore that to some extent. Professor backs How about the commute today if he is put upon getting in out of Tokyo as the
people who work in York City are. Yes I think the commander in Tokyo is legendary there is really nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. Tokyo Central Station where medium range and long range commutation trains come together and where interurban the beltline trains come in and subways and buses lines Tokyo Central Station handles roughly one million persons per day in commutation. Other satellite stations around the city will carry an equal amount. Now most Americans are now familiar with the sight of college students doing extra work out of hours helping to push people into the cars. There's a kind of a silence that is unlike. Commuting problems here in the subway people would to not confront one another with direct insults or alter cation as there's a quiet desperation in the community. But we have to. I don't want to get too technical but we
have very interesting specific statistics on maps which show the islands or peninsulas of commutation from different parts of Tokyo along side the cost of houses. So that a person weighs very carefully the higher cost of the house and shorter commuting draft. The lower cost of the house and a commuting trip that may take longer. It is not unusual at all for a resident of Tokyo to commute for an hour or an hour and a half each way because his house is so attractive once he gets do it. Other trains would not have all. And yes he did and it punctual Absolutely and perhaps somewhat wistfully we could compare the American mass transit system with that in Japan perhaps is a little unfair because of course the Japanese tackled the mass transit problem first with Rails. And the automobile has come late and that is another and sadder story as far as Tokyo is concerned. But in mass transportation
on rails since the great bulk of the rail system is operated by the government under subsidy. They are absolutely punctual. One can set his watch by the arrival and departure of the train. Only time I have experience that was in Switzerland it's nice to know it also exists yeah Japan absolutely pumped trial about the price of the tickets. Is it quite reasonable. Well there is a there is a myth that travelling in Japan is reasonable and I suppose for the tourist who has dedicated himself to a rather expensive two weeks this is a small portion of his outlay for the commuter who works in Tokyo with a lower per capita income as compared with the gross national product coming patient is is a is a great expense. That plus housing occupies a large proportion of an urban dwellers expense. Well speaking of housing Professor Becks do most people then work in Tokyo who have the jobs there but live outside of the city. Yes. Is it is the Exodus much greater from Tokyo to the suburban areas than it is
here in New York. Well just in a sense in three or four of the central wards which are incidentally the words which certainly the American tourist is most apt to see. These are the words which have eight or nine times the population during the day that they would have at night. There are other very large wards in the Tokyo complex however which are very dense and population tight toward just to the north around Ueno station is the most densely populated place in the world. Approximately 20000 people per square kilometer in title word. And this is directly in the city but this will be just a little ways out. Then the next layer will be the beltline which circles the outer western edge of Tokyo with major stations there will be large satellite cities here and residents grouped around those nodes of transportation. Then farther out will be the new towns like the Tama Newtown which is being built
about 30 miles west of the city that is going to have 700000 within this year. You people can't who live in small houses which they can call their own almost They live in apartments because the land is so limited. That's a good question land values are a real problem facing the are not so young married couple and the pattern has been two ways the novels and the motion pictures would show us the growth of Tokyo up to about 10 15 years ago. In the suburbs in small houses with even though it be a very small plot of land a small garden and a wall in a suburban area. Increasingly now we see growing up what are called the Da Vinci settlements the great urban renewal apartment houses in which thousands of people live. And as in Moscow or and London or perhaps in New York These can be very grim very much of a like Pullman like living quarter like living or they can be very exciting in architectural style.
I think the Japanese people though have such a feeling for beauty and interior decoration. Little gardens I mean they can do a lot with a little and baps they make their large apartment buildings less grim than other people. There's little doubt about that I think to one becomes you paying a fine when in the middle of this great and largely ugly city let's face it. One finds that touches the Jappy skill and aesthetic appreciation either in a garden or in a small decoration or in one room off in the sanctuary to which the middle class hairy person retires after. Because you know all the things they learned through the 100 centuries of culture which were built up have not entirely been lost. You know these I didn't I just know they certainly have not. Again we should add as in the case of New York very often one picks up traditional style carries them over into the most ultra modern architecture with with dramatic
results. So Tang is probably one of the world's greatest city planners and architects and his Olympic village complex which has now been converted into public facilities for the citizens of Tokyo is one of the most spectacular architectural units in the world beyond any question. If many people leave Tokyo at night to go back to where they live how many people remain. I ask that because one oversees very exciting films and photographs of the nightlife of Tokyo which appears to be sensational. Laura Well the leaving time though this is changing a little bit. Leaving time from these three down time wards for males yes would be say around 9 o'clock In other words there may be a very large amount of expense account entertainment life between the hours of five and nine. It used to be five ten years ago that made the possibility of getting a cab at around 9 o'clock at night when this central city in its second life of entertainment in the games area emptied out and the people went
back to the suburbs. Then there are of course still service people and some traces of the very old and don't call it though was the old name for Tokyo. The downtown of those who lived there many many generations small service trades and handicrafts and so forth was to live there. What about the M.S. which effects many people who not only live in cities who do seem to live anywhere these days but is it rather pronounced if they are unbalanced erotic unhappy behavior on the part of many people and Tokyo. Well certainly the Malays is there it's awfully hard to know what is neurotic and what is out of bounds when you cross cultural boundaries Yeah it's awfully hard to do. But certainly if one watches the magazine articles written for women who try to make ends meet in this urban complex. If one reads the novels and if one watches the motion pictures the motion picture to live comes to mind. The way in which a person tries to domesticate this enormous city and live in it and be happy. One is struck by the fact that Jeremy's not only been aware of this but have probably been among the
world's great contributors to how the individual escapes from this terrible bind of the city. I've heard it said that Japan is one of the few countries in the world which has become highly industrialized and the technological point of view is the West has and yet has retained a great sense of the aesthetic and it's a continuing appreciation of what is beautiful is an unusual combination in a people. I think that's quite true with the city. And I think. Both you and I up to now have been assuming that the entrance into the city always equals nothing but social disorganization Malays and so forth. To answer your question we still have to ask why then do people continue to come to New York or to Tokyo and of course the answer is quite apparent here and there it is in Tokyo where the great symphony orchestras play. It is in Tokyo where the great museums are. The city is an exciting place and you could never persuade anybody to go back and live in OK I have trees but down in the city of Tokyo and
certainly Tokyo has been built on the foundations of tradition rather than saying it has destroyed them. And with the modernization has come many of the traditional Japanese qualities such as the sense of aesthetics sense of style in architecture the sentence of styling industrial design and so forth. If you would mind generalizing in a few minutes a few seconds I should say I do have the feeling that Doc you know handles this urban problems better than New York does. I think in some areas it does its ability in the field of eminent domain and mass transportation in government of ministration perhaps better in the areas where pollution water pollution refuse collection and so forth in some cases not as well as we do. What out of books I wish I could invite you to stay longer I'm very sorry this conversation is up and I thank you for being here and may I say that our guest on this program has been Dr. Burk's Dr. Burk's Professor Burks is
director of the international studies program at Rutgers University. And I think his exposition of urban problems in Tokyo New York have been most illuminating. This is Lee Graham saying goodbye but always with a reminder that although East is East and West is West we do think the time has come. The twain to meet. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. This series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7. I make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Asia Society presents
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-w08wfx3v).
Other Description
Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
Talk Show
Global Affairs
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:24:32
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Asia Society presents; 18,” 1969-04-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 22, 2022,
MLA: “Asia Society presents; 18.” 1969-04-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 22, 2022. <>.
APA: Asia Society presents; 18. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from