EU-Japan programme exchange on sustainable urban development
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.
A seminar on urban development was co-organised last 15 May in Tokyo by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan and the Directorate General for Regional Policy 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.
In Japan, MLIT has the main responsibility for national spatial development and planning, urban and regional policy, as well as infrastructure development in general. In the highly urbanized context of Japan, widening income gaps, restructuring and the delocalization of industry to lower-wage economies, and increasing poverty and social deprivation have become major political issues. The Japanese government has placed high priority on addressing the problems of Japan’s major urban centres, enhancing the competitiveness of cities by improving the urban environment, regenerating the cities, encouraging investment in new activities including in the environmental technologies and reclaiming and developing available urban land.
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. The Japanese cities will visit their European partner cities in October 2013 which will include a European dimension in the form of a seminar organised in Brussels during the Open Days.