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ABSTRACT

Drawing inspiration from Bluestone and Harrison's seminal 1982 book The Deindustrialization of America, this article examines the impact of industrial restructuring on Japan's four largest major metropolitan areas (MMAs). Focusing upon (1) the bursting of the Japanese asset bubble in the early 1990's, (2) trade friction with the West, and (3) a significant appreciation of the Japanese Yen relative to the currencies of its major industrial competitors, it reveals how a complex array of factors provoked manufacturing employment decline in these MMAs after 1991. It then describes some of the negative outcomes accompanying industrial restructuring in the four largest MMAs, namely, (1) contracting total employment after 1996, (2) absolute declines in mean household income (HHI) after 2000, and (3) rising inter-municipal income stratification during the 2000s. A final important finding from these case studies suggests that there has been an inverse relationship between the percentage of a region's employment in manufacturing and its inter-place HHI inequality. In summary, although the Japanese case is distinct from the U.S. experience in many ways, these findings nonetheless demonstrate the continued importance of Bluestone and Harrison's conclusions about the connections among manufacturing employment, regional prosperity, and interplace equity.