Inspiring non-EU countries
Japan and the EU share many common challenges in the field of sustainable urban development and in a wider involvement of local actors in urban development strategies.
DG REGIO and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan together with EU and Japanese cities started in 2012 to exchange experience and good practices through the EU-Japan programme exchange on urban development.
Following the successful outcome of the seminar "Putting urban development into an international context: exchanging best practice between Europe, Japan and Latin America" organised on 11 October 2012 in Brussels, a seminar on urban development was co-organised on 15 May 2012 in Tokyo by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan and the DG REGIO with the participation of more than 50 experts, including senior representatives from the authorities in the cities of Leipzig, Stockholm and Torino on EU side and Kanazawa, Kitakyushu and Kumamoto on Japanese side.
The seminar focused on the topics of particular interest both to Japan and to each of the European cities represented: urban regeneration and urban transport (Leipzig), low-carbon cities (Stockholm) and support to cultural and creative industries as drivers for urban development (Torino). Following the plenary event, each of the European cities undertook a 2-day study visit to a Japanese city: Kanazawa (in the case of Torino), Kitakyushu (Stockholm) and Kumamoto (Leipzig). Both sides intend that these contact meetings, sponsored by MLIT and by the European Union, will initiate a decentralized process of exchange of experience and best practice over the coming years between the cities concerned on urban development themes. To this end, the Japanese cities visited their European partner cities in October 2013 which ended with a well-attended seminar in Brussels during the Open Days on 10 October. The same day, REGIO Director General, Walter Deffaa, signed a Letter of Intent on an urban policy dialogue with Japan in the presence of Tetsu Kabashima, Deputy Director General of the City Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
At the 21st EU-Japan Summit (Tokyo, 19 November 2013), Summit leaders welcomed the newly established dialogue on urban development policy and underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation on sustainable and integrated urban practices and policies between Japan and EU.