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 Urban Planning and Development:
A Japanese Flavour

Hari Srinivas
Case Study Series E-145. July 2022.

The dynamics of urban planning and development in Japan can be seen in the interaction between city planning officials and the resident community in attempting to solve their local problems. Over the last several years, the Japan Association for Planning Administration (JAPA) has instituted the PLANNING PRIZE to commend and highlight such planning initiatives. The main objective of the Prize is to identify superior initiatives in planning and implementation by acknowledging excellence and stimulating innovation.

Snow lanterns of Yasuzuka, Japan
The Prize covers initiatives undertaken by the public sector, NGOs, and private/business sectors. The content, process and implementing organization are evaluated for the significant impact that the initiative has on public values and the community at large.

Submissions to the competition is solicited through advertisements in newspapers, direct contact with local city governments, as well as through the extensive networks of JAPA's planner-members. The first stage of the selection process is done by a team of 60 referees from JAPA (each project is evaluated by five referees). From these, a shortlist of ten projects is drawn up. The second stage of selection process involves the presentation of the shortlisted projects in an open public symposium held in Tokyo. The presentations are judged by a team of 13 referees taken from academia, local governments, media executives, TV and newspapers. The Prize itself consists of a Certificate and a Plaque.

In order to provide a flavour of the plans, nine prizes were selected from among those who won the Planning Prize. They are divided into three themes (note that these themes are not related to the Prize itself, but were developed specifically for this write-up). Not all of them deal with the issues of UEM, but they do highlight the importance of participation, networking and information dissemination among the various stakeholders in the urban arena.

 THEME 1: Conversion of local liabilities into assets
Environmental, social or geographical problems can seem to be liabilities at first, but creative planning and policy development by city governments have enabled the conversion of these liabilities into assets that have worked to their advantage in the long run.

  1. Marketing Snow: Yasuzuka Town's Strategy
  2. Facilitating Star-gazing: Light Control Legislation of Beseicho
  3. Kitakyushu: International Cooperation to solve Environmental Problems

 THEME 2: Community Participation
It is well know that the true success in any planning project lies in effective participation of the community in the decision-making processes. Local governments have realized this, and adopted participation in most of their programmes and projects.

  1. Overcoming the NIMBY Syndrome: Incinerators in Komae City
  2. Finance Mobilization and Community Ownership: Public Projects in Kakegawa City
  3. Cultural Diplomacy: Festivals of Ogaki

 THEME 3: Tradition v/s Innovation
Japan is a country rich in heritage and culture, and local governments constantly find the need to preserve their traditional architectures, but also innovate and keep up with developments in an advanced economy.

  1. Conservation and Preservation in Planning processes: Kyoto's experiences
  2. Fostering Knowledge Creation: Kansai Science City
  3. Community Friendly Transportation: Musashino City's Move Bus Project

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