Catastrophe, opportunism, contestation: The fractured politics of reconstructing Tokyo following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923
Source TitleModern Asian Studies
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
University of Melbourne Author/sSCHENCKING, JOHN
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSchencking, J. C. (2006). Catastrophe, opportunism, contestation: The fractured politics of reconstructing Tokyo following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Modern Asian Studies, 40 (4), pp.833-873. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0026749X06001934.
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C1 - Journal Articles Refereed
‘Earthquake and fire destroyed the greater part of Tokyo. Thoroughgoing reconstruction needed. Please come immediately if possible, even if for a short stay.’1 So cabled Viscount Goto Shinpei, former mayor of Tokyo (1920–1923) and current Home Minister to his long-time friend and Director of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research, Charles A. Beard. Six days earlier, on 1 September 1923, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude between 7.9 and 8.2 devastated much of Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto region. The quake and the resulting fires, conflagrations that burned for over two days, destroyed nearly 70% of all structures in Tokyo, inflicted damage with a monetary cost upwards of 5.5 billion yen, killed more than 120,000 citizens, and rendered just over 1.5 million people homeless: it was an urban catastrophe surpassed in scope only by the devastation wrought by aerial bombing during the Second World War. The Kanto Daishinsai was Japan’s most deadly, economically costly, and physically destructive natural catastrophe in history. Within a world history context moreover, the 1923 earthquake was one of the most devastating and disruptive natural disasters of the 20th century, yet it is also one of the least studied.
KeywordsHistory: Asian ; Understanding the Past of Other Societies; Understanding Other Countries
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