For most of the latter half of the twentieth century, Roppongi
was an enormously popular nightclub district that stood out from
the other pleasure quarters of Tokyo for its mix of international
entertainment and people. It was where Japanese and foreigners went
to meet and play. With the crash of Japan's bubble economy in the
1990s, however, the neighborhood declined, and it now has a
reputation as perhaps Tokyo's most dangerous district-a hotbed of
illegal narcotics, prostitution, and other crimes. Its
concentration of "bad foreigners," many from China, Russia and
Eastern Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia is thought to be
the source of the trouble.
Roman Adrian Cybriwsky examines how Roppongi's nighttime economy
is now under siege by both heavy-handed police action and the
conservative Japanese "construction state," an alliance of large
private builders and political interests with broad discretion to
redevelop Tokyo. The construction state sees an opportunity to turn
prime real estate into high-end residential and retail projects
that will "clean up" the area and make Tokyo more competitive with
Shanghai and other rising business centers in Asia.
Roppongi Crossing is a revealing ethnography of what is
arguably the most dynamic district in one of the world's most
dynamic cities. Based on extensive fieldwork, it looks at the
interplay between the neighborhood's nighttime rhythms; its
emerging daytime economy of office towers and shopping malls;
Japan's ongoing internationalization and changing ethnic mix; and
Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, the massive new construction
projects now looming over the old playground.
Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology, Political Science
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