Solving Cities

In case of catastrophe, Japan unveils Tokyo backup city

In case of catastrophe, Japan unveils Tokyo backup city

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Japan has unveiled plans to build a backup city for Tokyo in case a catastrophic earthquake ever crippled the city.

With memories of the devastating 9.0 earthquake still fresh in their minds, Japan has unveiled plans to build a backup city for Tokyo in case a catastrophic earthquake ever crippled the city.

Built on a 1,236-acre site 300 miles west of Tokyo, the backup city, known as the Integrated Resort, Tourism, Business and BackupCity, or IRTBBC, would make it possible for the government to continue to function even when disaster strikes. Wired UK reports:

The site ... will also include office complexes, resort facilities, casinos and parks, as well as a 652-metre-high office building.

The infrastructure has been planned for a population of 50,000 residents (which we should note is some way short of Tokyo's population of 13 million) and a workforce of 200,000 -- most of whom will commute from Osaka, Japan's second city, which the site lies to the north of.

The city is still in the concept phase, but it raises a number of questions: Who would have access to the city? How would they get there? Nate Berg at Atlantic Cities also wonders if it's a wise investment:

And while maintaining a seat of government is probably a good idea, not planning for what happens to the city’s 13 million residents in the face of what’s perceived as a looming disaster seems ignorant of why Tokyo is one of the world’s most successful and powerful cities. The estimated $180,000 the government is expected to spend on preliminary plans for this backup city might wisely be matched with similar funding to plan for how the existing city of Tokyo could be more resilient should that devastation come.

Though, $180,000 doesn't go very far. It makes sense to at least study the concept. Whether it makes sense to go all in on the project is another story. What do you think: smart idea or not?

Photo: Will Hastings/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure