Rethinking Port Areas:
Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama, Japan


Hari Srinivas
Case Study Series E-162. July 2022.


Introduction

Yokohama has been one of Japan's most important international ports ever since it opened 137 years ago. Today, the city is using its convenient location in the Tokyo metropolitan area, its historical assets and its geographical advantages to aim for new commercial and cultural development. Minato Mirai 21, the heart of this new cosmopolitan business center, is taking a leading role as Yokohama proceeds toward the 21st century.

The old port area of Yokohama contained several derelict buildings that were disused, underutilized, or were in need of extensive repair. It was also the siting of several industries that wanted to take advantage of the proximity of port facilities that Yokohama offered.


Reclamation and redevelopment plan for MM21

The resulting decision of the then Yokohama City government in 1965 to redevelop the entire area as the "Minato Mirai 21" set into motion the planning and redevelopment of the port region. The initiative was unique in that a public-private partnership was set up in the form of a corporation, the MM21 Corporation to coordinate the development of the area. It had a paid-up capital of Yen 1.1 billion (about US$ 10 million) It had the City of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation, Japan National Railways Settlement Headquarters, Land owners, and Local business circles as shareholders in the corporation. Its activities included, solicitation of business facilities, overall planning and coordination, prevention of radio wave interference; coordination of public parks and recycling systems, coordination of on-site facilities, survey and research related to town planning, publicity and public relations etc.

MM21, as it is popularly called, is designed as a comprehensive city center incorporating several industrial and port functions, entertainment and amusement functions, historical buildings and parks, convention and hotel facilities as well as office spaces. MM21 aims to be the center for information, culture, business/industry, and environment for the City of Yokohama. Its mixed-use development plan called for a day-time population of 190,000 and a night-time population of just 10,000. It covers a total area of 186 hectares. It includes redevelopment of existing land area, reclaiming land area from the sea, and construction and redevelopment of existing and additional port facilities. It also calls for an extensive integrated infrastructure network to be put in place that includes public and road transportation, underground service tunnels, district heating and cooling system, city refuse and sewage system etc.

This case study profiles the MM21 - firstly discussing the need for MM21 and the vision that went into its planning. It then provides a detailed account of how the actual development took place (as a historical measure). It highlights its unique points, and draws lessons in terms of the replicablility of similar projects in other regions.

The Setting: Yokohama City

Yokohama is situated on a peninsula facing the western coast of Tokyo Bay, and lies a mere 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Yokohama enjoys a relatively mild climate. In 1990, the average temperature was 16.6 degrees centigrade (62 degrees Fahrenheit), while the highest and lowest temperatures were 31.9 degrees centigrade (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1.3 degrees centigrade(34 degrees Fahrenheit) respectively.

More than 3.27 million people live in Yokohama, qualifying it as Japan's second largest city. Its total production output is valued at nine trillion ($72 billion), or three million ($24,000) per capita.


Yokohama in the 1800s
The port of Yokohama was opened in 1859 and ever since, has played a major role as a window to the world. Many of the world's inventions and discoveries first appeared in Yokohama. Japan's first Western style hotel and restaurant were opened in Yokohama, and the city was also the site of Japan's first coffee shop and bakery as well as its first modern waterworks and railroads. Yokohama is Japan's largest international trading port, owing to this opening up to foreign traders since early times.

The Yokohama port handles a very high volume of cargo. The average total number of oceangoing and domestic ships calling at Yokohama in any month in 1998, was 4,274 with a gross tonnage of 21.40 million tons.

With the opening of 24-hour container terminals, modernization, reduced costs, efficient management and simplification of port procedures/ logistics, the 'creation of a user-friendly port' also increased the volume of cargo and ships handled. Besides, the convenience of its location in close proximity to the metropolis of Tokyo, and locationing of many industries very close to the port, exasperated the situation.

The Consequences: Degradation

The high growth period of post-war Japan (1950s to 70s) placed greater emphasis on export-oriented economic growth, with little realization of its long-term environmental consequences. Thus many industries were set up in the Yokohama area close to the port - with the objective of wanting to use its proximity to port facilities and ocean-going ships for trade and transport.

It was only after the gradual shift of Japan's economy to the service sector, and its consequent abandonment of warehouses and other industrial structures, that the environmental effects of the high growth period began to be felt in the port area.

Parallel to this development was also the demographic shifts of population, where Tokyo became a settlement of choice for many aspiring Japanese professionals due to its political, economic and cultural centrality. Thus the population of Tokyo grew very fast, along with Yokohama, putting great pressure on the land and its resources.



The Planning: Regeneration

With more heavy industries moving to the port area, and the volume of cargo handled by port increasing, the environment around the port continued to deteriorate.

It was in 1965 that the then City of Yokohama decided to redevelop the entire area. Several reasons lead to this decision:

  • with growing population densities in the city center of Yokohama, and its proximity to Tokyo (where Yokohama's suburbs became Tokyo's 'bedroom towns'), it became imperative for Yokohama to ease some of the population pressures away from the center by creating alternative magnets for development;

  • port activities such as storage, berthing, cargo handling, and related services and facilities were also being stretched beyond their limits calling for expansion and relocation of the port areas;

  • many heavy manufacturing industries and warehouses located near the port contributed to increased pollution, land degradation, and formation of 'brownfields';

  • the heavy industries themselves became redundant after the shift of Japan's economy to a service-oriented one - necessitating the conservation and dismantling of its buildings and machinery;

  • modernization and 'internationalization' that followed the national reconstruction after World War II (much of Yokohama port was destroyed during the war) prompted the City of Yokohama to develop the area as "Minato Mirai 21 (MM21)"
Timeline
A chronology of events in the planning
and development of Minato Mirai 21
  • 1965: City of Yokohama announces Redevelopment Plan, one of six major projects.
  • 1978: Planning and Investigatory Committee for the Improvement of Yokohama City Center and Waterfront Area established.
  • 1980: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., relocates its Yokohama shipyard.
  • 1981: Master plan for the Yokohama city center and waterfront area announced; Project Promotion Committee headquarters established; Project officially named MM21.
  • 1983: Urban plan including Land Readjustment finalized; Transport Ministry authorizes landfill project on public waters; Construction Ministry authorizes Land Readjustment (35.1 ha.); MM21project officially launched.
  • 1984: Cornerstone-laying ceremony held for MM21land reclamation site. Yokohama MM21Corporation established.
  • 1986: MM21district heating and cooling established.
  • 1987: Reclamation work completed in Central District (43 ha); Modification of Land Readjustment plan (expansion to 63.4 ha) authorized.;
  • 1988: Japanese government designates Pacifico Yokohama as official conference facility under the Private Participation Promotion Law; Construction Ministry authorizes basic Intelligent City plan; MM21Basic Agreement on Urban Community Development concluded.
  • 1989: Modification of Land Readjustment plan (expansion to 74.3 ha) authorized; Yokohama MM21 Railway established; Telecommunications center begins service;
  • 1990: Committee in charge of decentralization and relocation of national agencies designates MM21as a potential site.
  • 1991: Refuse conveying pipeline system begins operation; Minato Mirai Pier and Marine Terminal completed.
  • 1992: City of Yokohama and the Finance Ministry conclude a contract on exchange of the Aka-Renga warehouses and sites; Business Attraction Headquarters established;
  • 1993: Government approves the Yokohama Business Core City Basic Concept; MM21Recycling Promotion Council established; The Landmark Tower Yokohama opened; MM21celebrates 10th anniversary of founding
  • 1994: Takashima Yard District reclamation from public waters authorized; Bayside Express Line opened.
  • 1995: Modification of Land Readjustment plan (extension of plan period to 2003 including 5-year settlement period) authorized; Yokohama Import Mart Corporation established; Yokohama Marine Disaster Prevention Complex completed; Reclamation of land between piers in Shinko District authorized.
  • 1997: Queen's Square Yokohama (begun 1994) opened; MM21district is awarded the 1997 Cityscape Grand Prix;
  • 1999: Modification of Land Readjustment plan (extension of plan period to 2005 including 5-year settlement period, and expansion to 101.6ha) authorized.

MM21 set about to outline its aims and objectives within an overall project framework:


Source: Yokohama City Planning Bureau

MM21, as it is popularly called, is designed as a comprehensive city center incorporating several industrial and port functions, entertainment and amusement functions, historical buildings and parks, convention and hotel facilities as well as office spaces.

The six 'R's of
Minato Mirai 21'S Plan

REGENERATION
RELOCATION
RECLAMATION
REDEVELOPMENT
READJUSTMENT
RECYCLING

MM21 aims to be the center for information, culture, business/industry, and environment for the City of Yokohama. Its mixed-use development plan called for a day-time population of 190,000 and a night-time population of just 10,000.

MM21 includes redevelopment of existing land area, reclaiming land area from the sea, and construction and redevelopment of existing and additional port facilities. It also calls for an extensive integrated infrastructure network to be put in place that includes public and road transportation, underground service tunnels, district heating and cooling system, city refuse and sewage system etc. About 80 percent of MM21's construction has now been completed.

The MM21 Land planning includes land reclamation (developed by the City of Yokohama); land readjustment (developed by the Housing and Urbandevelopment Corp.); and port development (developed by the City of Yokohama). Land readjustment includes change in land use, land appropriation and purchase, pollution mitigation, etc.

After the basic plan was created, and necessary planning and development approval was obtained from the Japanese cabinet (due to the size of the project, and the financial commitments), the Yokohama City Government decided to set up a unique public-private corporation, called the "Minato Mirai Corporation" that was to oversee the construction and development of MM21.

It had a paid-up capital of Yen 1.1 billion (about US$ 10 million) It had the City of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Housing & Urban Development Corporation, Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation, Japan National Railways Settlement Headquarters, Land owners, and Local business circles as shareholders in the corporation.

Its activities included solicitation of business facilities, overall planning and coordination, prevention of radio wave interference; coordination of public parks and recycling systems, coordination of on-site facilities, survey and research related to town planning, publicity and public relations etc.


MM21's Public-Private Partnership

The sharing of responsibilities between the MM21 Corp., the public sector (Yokohama city etc.) and private sector companies is an interesting and unique approach for Japan.

The MM21 area was subdivided into several blocks (more than ten), and partnerships entered into with private sector developers to develop each block. Projects to date have included international exchange areas, business facilities, Wholesale and other commercial facilities, cultural facilities, amusement, sports and recreation facilities, educational facilities, administrative facilities, port facilities, transportation facilities, medical facilities, utility and waste disposal facilities, and urban housing, besides other urban facilities.

The Result: Minato Mirai 21

Minato Mirai 21 has several features that are worth noting in its plan:

  • Underground Service Tunnels
    Underground Service Tunnels beneath all trunk roads are used for electrical wiring, gas and water pipes, telecommunications and fiber optic cables, as well as waste disposal and area-wide air conditioning systems.

  • Trunk Roads & Pedestrian Networks
    MM21's two main trunk roads, Minato Mirai Blvd. and Kokusai Blvd., are designed to facilitate travel throughout the city while relieving congestion in the downtown area. An extensive pedestrian network (above and below ground) that passes through many of the shopping and business district help keep the city safe and comfortable.

  • District Heating and Cooling System
    To respond to local demand, Japan's largest area-wide air conditioning system is being used to produce, distribute and control heat safely, efficiently and cleanly.

  • Minato Mirai 21 Line
    A new subway system, the Minato Mirai 21 Line, is under construction. It runs from Sakuragicho Station to Motomachi via the center of the MM21 complex. Scheduled to open in the year 2000, this all-underground train system will be integrated with existing railway lines in Yokohama.

  • City Refuse and Sewage System
    To make the MM21 environment clean and comfortable, waste from various facilities is routed systematically via pipes in the underground service tunnels to a Cleaning Center and then transported to incinerators.

  • Moving Walkway
    Part of the Queen Axis consists of a moving walkway that feeds into the elevated walkways connecting Sakuragicho Station (gateway to MM21) with Nippon-maru Park and Yokohama Landmark Tower.

  • Parking Lot Information
    Guidance is provided via strategically placed electronic billboards, so that cars can quickly get to a parking facility. Drivers will know at a glance the availability of parking facilities.


    MM21 today

    In closing, MM21 has set off to create a city with a strong 'international influence', by creating a multipurpose, multi-use area, covering business, commercial and cultural spaces. MM21 is also being projected as a showcase 'Information City' - combining industrial/academic research and development facilities with high-speed, high-capacity data networks.

    It is also being sold with a 'human face' where people and nature can blend by taking advantage of the waterfront area and the MM21 Green Network, and also conserve existing historical buildings in the area.

    The MM21 area and the Port of Yokohama have come a long way from the turn of the century. By extensive land reclamation, rezoning, and other improvements, it has managed to develop a system that contributes to a more attractive urban environment.

    Actively partnering with the private sector to develop MM21, the City of Yokohama overcame its own limitations by banking on the business and technical skills and acumen of the private sector, while itself focussing on creating a favourable policy and legislative environment.

    Minato Mirai 21 today Today, more than 1,800 companies have entered the market in MM21, generating an annual tax revenue of approximately 17 billion yen in 2018 for the city.

    MM21's development also has had a positive impact on Yokohama's overall economy. Cumulative economic effect of construction investment has been more than JPY 3 trillion, and about JPY 2 trillion for urban operations .

    Number of annual visitors has increased from 60 million in early 2000s to almost 80 million today. With more than 180ha of land in the MM21 area developed, more than 90 percent of the blocak has been developed.

         Further information:
  • Yokohama MM21
  • MM21 Area Management Agency
  • Yokohama City

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