I'm delighted to make the closing speech. I had wanted to listen to more discussion at this symposium, but sadly we have run out of time.
I would like to say just a few words. Asakusa will shortly be celebrating almost 1,400 years serving as a religious town, and I think Asakusa developed into an area resembling a town from the times of the 8th Shogun Yoshimune in the 18th century after the Kyoho Reforms took place. The Edo town was basically divided into three parts: Samurai residences accounting for about 80%, common people's residences accounting for about 10%, and shrines and temples accounting for the remaining 10%. That was the ratio of residences.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the population of the town grew to 1 million. At the time, Edo had the highest population in the world. To support this 1 million population, factors like production, distribution and exchange among people were intricately intertwined. I believe this is Professor Hattori's specialist field, but if we compare Japan with other countries, the population of overseas cities in the 18th century was 550,000 people in Paris, 460,000 people in London and 300,000 people in Amsterdam. So, it is assumed that the religious town of Asakusa, which had a relatively small area, had a high population density.
In that sense, it is perfectly natural that a variety of cultures emerged from such an environment. In conversations with friends we often talk about the "light and shadow", and it was even mentioned today. If we look towards the Meiji period, we can see that all the various cultures which accumulated during the Edo period came to fruition and there was a movement towards perfection of the cultures, but as we entered the Taisho and Showa periods, the Great Kanto Earthquake put an end to the movement. We heard from the professors today about "Asakusa Kurenai-Dan" (The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa), and there is a playwright Seiji Hoshikawa, hailing from Asakusa, who wrote the novel "Aburie".
In this book, Hoshikawa described Asakusa theatres during the period from 1927, when Ryunosuke Akutagawa committed suicide, to 1929, when Yasunari Kawabata announced his work "Asakusa Kurenai-Dan" in the newspapers. The book focuses on the transformation of the theatre world: from so-called silent films to talkies, and the start of the Japanese film industry.
Following this era, from the end of the war to about 1955 and 1965, the population of Taito Ward was twice the population of today – I think it was about 350,000 people. The cultural movement in a city which Professor Lockyer described earlier is a natural progression. Towns change in tandem with the times. This is a natural process, and we are now in this process. Thanks to the deep understanding of Mr. Hiroshi Yoshizumi, the Mayor of Taito Ward, who has been with us this afternoon, and thanks to the enthusiasm of Professor Itoda of Meiji University and Professor Sepp Linhart of the University of Vienna, this "International Asakusa Project" has been launched. This kind of area study will never take place without the local people like ourselves. I hope that each of us will understand the significance of the "International Asakusa Studies Project" and lend our support in developing the project.
And so, that is the end of my closing speech. Thank you. (Applause.)
Thank you, President Nagabori.
As I mentioned earlier, there will be a party in Ueno Seiyoken on the 8th floor, which is 1 floor below us. You probably still have many questions to put to the professors, so I think you will have the chance there to exchange opinions with them.
Please forgive my rather amateur chairing today. The symposium is now finished, and I'd like to thank you all for joining us today. (Applause.)