Sparking howls of protests from the retail industry, the government and ruling coalition decided Wednesday to ban commercial complexes with a floor space exceeding 10,000 square meters from opening in suburban areas.
The planned bill to revise the City Planning Law would force, in principle, large commercial facilities, such as supermarkets, restaurants, movie theaters and entertainment complexes, to open only in commercial and other designated districts of urban areas.
Some retailers’ strategies for survival hinge on large shopping centers in suburban areas, where land is cheaper, ample space can be secured for parking lots, and a single complex can attract hordes of customers.
However, local shopping districts in urban areas are now suffering from a phenomenon known as “shutter streets.” Store operators have been forced to close down as consumers increasingly spend their money in suburban shopping malls.
But after the revision, operators will be banned from opening huge outlets in suburban areas unless municipal governments redefine the purposes of such locations.
Special exemptions that have endorsed large-scale development projects in suburban areas with development plans will also be scrapped.
Public facilities, such as hospitals and schools, will also be required to obtain permission before relocating to the suburbs.
That last bit is a little whack, but at least hospitals and schools aren’t banned entirely from the suburbs.
It’ll be interesting to see if this anti-Wal-Mart bill passes, and if so what kind of effect it will have on Japan. Obviously we never had anything like that here; the deserted downtown area lined with empty storefronts is a common image in the US.