This paper examines the impact of the Japanese model of placing responsibility for downtown commercial vitalization with incorporated Shopping District Associations (SDAs), via a comparative study of successful and unsuccessful shopping districts in downtown Chiba City, Japan. Under the Japanese model, small property owners must agree to part with, or upgrade their properties, in order to implement vitalization plans. SDAs are responsible for “consensus building” among property owners. However, the complexity of the issues, SDA organizational characteristics, and the failure to utilize mediators to resolve conflicts, have made consensus building a difficult undertaking. SDAs that experienced difficulties in consensus building often lost opportunities to utilize public funds for downtown commercial vitalization, which has contributed to the continuing decline of those shopping districts.