The Weight of Society Over Time and Space: A Comprehensive Account of the Construction Material Stock of Japan, 1945–2010

In order to fully comprehend the socioeconomic metabolic (SEM) dynamics and material balance of nations, long-term accounting of economy-wide material stock is necessary in parallel to material flow accounts. Nevertheless, material stock accounts have been scarce, isolated, and mostly focused either on single materials, short time spans, or small regions. This study has two objectives: (1) review the state of the art of material stock research in the SEM discourse and (2) present a project to map, in a high level of detail, the in-use construction material stocks of Japan and its 47 prefectures from the 1940s until the present era. This project documents the two major depositories of material stock: buildings and infrastructure. We describe the challenges and benefits of utilizing a bottom-up approach, in order to promote its usage in material stock studies. The resulting database presents the accumulation of stock over time, as well as visually displaying the spatial distribution of the stock using geographical information systems (GIS), which, we argue, is an essential aspect of material stock analysis in the context of socioeconomic metabolism research.

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