The aim of the "Strategic plan for Doubling Space for Life" is to double living space so that less strenuous and more comfortable activities will be generated among Japanese people with various values.
As I have been arguing for some time now, we need to have plans for a quality society. This plan is in line with my argument and I thoroughly agree with the aim.
However, this plan has many similar points to the "Five-Year Economic Plan Sharing a Better Quality of Life around the Globe" that was formulated during the Miyazawa administration. Why?
It is because the contents of this plan concentrate on enlargement and renewal of incommodious and deteriorated space based on quantitative numerical targets, rather than measures to improve the quality of life, which is supposed to be the primary consideration of the plan.
Herein, I would like to point out the following four missing viewpoints:
First, the plan lacks the vantage point that "quantitative extension of life space does not necessarily lead to improvement of quality of life".
This plan does not provide any numerical targets indicating the substantiality of social capital.
Even conventional types of social capital, such as roads, houses and ports, can enhance qualitative evaluation by adding functions to conserve the environment, for instance.
We must take this opportunity to scrutinize rating factors for individual social capital and create an evaluation system for a quality society similar to the star system for rating restaurants or employing the scoring system (a method for making a qualitative judgement by the evaluation result of each rating factor and the total value).
Improving quality of social capital through manifold use of space
Secondly, the plan lacks a frame of reference that "manifold use of space leads to improvement of quality of social capital".
In Japan, structural regulations are loosened for architectures which secure a specific area of open space under the Sogo Sekkei Seido or integrated architecture system introduced in 1969 (Showa 44) .
Lastly, the plan lacks the frame of reference that a "strategy for generating 'topophilia (affection for a place)' is important".
Yi-Fu Tuan argues in his book Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes and Values that it is topophilia that makes us say "home, sweet home" or become nostalgic.
According to Tuan, the reason why an old country house would bring peace of mind to Japanese is because we can imagine the family that lives there, the community and individual lifestyles just by looking at it. Thus, the house induces topophilia.
A space that induces peace of mind cannot be created just by renewing something deteriorated or extending something incommodious. The creation of space that ingeniously anticipates and seizes human topophilia is something we should leave for the next generation as a great inheritance.
To sum up, the mere alignment of various spaces is no different from the other plans in the past which surfaced and vanished.
Activities with genuine comfort and appeasement would not be generated by excluding the organic linkages between living space and symbiotic space and the subtleness of human psychology on space from our thoughts.
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