2003 2. A Framework for Urban Revitalization and Sustainable Development, Special Lecture in UP&Nankai Univ

(This is the paper presented in the special lecture at SURP, the University of the Philippines on Feb. 12, 2003, in Quezon City.

And at Nankai Univesity in Tianjin, China on March 25, 2003)

A Framework for Urban Revitalization and

Sustainable Development

Hirohide Konami (Ph.D.)

Professor of Graduate School of Regional Development Studies

Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan

Former Visiting Professor of School of Urban and Regional Planning

and Asian Institute of Tourism

The University of the Philippines

1. Introduction

It is obvious that a city will be vitalized by the increase of population and industries in its territory. The necessity of revitalization appears when the increase of those urban functions declined or the central area of the city has been deteriorated caused by the relocation of core urban functions. This paper tries to make clear why the revitalization of cities is required and how to overcome the problems by good urban governance. 

An independent or isolated city has a tendency to grow endlessly except the case of getting big damage by disasters or wars. In general, inefficiency caused by the traffic congestion, environmental problems, worsened security and other reasons cannot be a barrier of the urban growth because the urban people choose the way to endure those difficulties rather than the poverty accusing the wrong administration of the government. People know that the concentration of population and industries creates additional employments and they can survive if they stay within the urban area. Therefore, the reasons of the decline of the urban functions and the deterioration of down town would be considered as follows.

(1) Total decrease of urban population and industries caused by the less baby born, the absorption of strong adjacent cities or severe economic recess. 

(2) The relocation of urban functions from down town to suburbs caused by the traffic congestion, shortage of parking space, high floor cost and some other reasons.

(3) Poor management effort to catch up the change of needs and information tools.

Japanese government decided to organize the task forth named “Urban Renaissance Headquarter” in the cabinet in 2001 and announced the revitalization policy of metropolitan areas and provincial cities. The main points are to promote the public and private partnership by means of approving the exceptional regulation of city planning law in designated areas in metropolitan areas, and to introduce diverted functions in down town, to develop the transportation centers, to introduce universal design, to promote public transportation and to activate the creative mind in provincial cities. 

As a conclusion, revitalization of cities would be performed as a total result of integrated effort of public and private, such as road and parking space construction, better townscape, improvement of transportation service, land readjustment, urban renewal, rehabilitation of buildings, introduction of universal design, introduction of diverted urban functions in down town, and better management of public and private establishments.

As for the sustainable development, four big streams such as to control the development projects, the introduction of the recycle system of materials and energy, the introduction of less energy system and the introduction of clean energy systems are undergoing. All of those efforts are vitally important but the existing knowledge about the globe and life is still poor. Moreover, the additional investment for the environmental protection and monitor system is still quite heavy for under developing countries. To start from the effort what we can do would be the most important attitude for this problem.

2. Governmental Strategy for the Regional Revitalization

Japanese government is promoting two big strategies. One is to introduce so called “Tokku” where the existing governmental regulation would be temporarily released. Another is to promote the urban renewal projects in designated areas in central and rural metropolitan areas. 

Proposals from municipalities for “Tokku” (Special Area) reached to the total number of 903 in 2002 and 93 are accepted as Tokku, 111 approved as nationwide deregulation, 141 postponed as the matter of further discussion, 311 identified that the misunderstanding of existing regulation and possible under the present regulation, 247 not identified as proposals. 

Examples of Tokku are the construction of governmental facilities by private fields, approval of the participation of corporations into agricultural fields, deregulation of immigration control, deregulation of various control on private enterprises, and many others. Details can be seen on URL in Japanese shown below.


In general, this kind of trial is highly evaluated but still there are strong resistance of bureaucrats. 

Another strategy of urban renewal is started from the designation of 17 promotion areas in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka regions. They are as follows:

1)      6 urban renewal areas within built-up areas in down town Tokyo, and one bay area in Tokyo,

2)      Yokohama Minato Mirai 21 area,

3)      East area of Nagoya station

4)      4 urban renewal areas within built-up areas in down town Osaka and 4 sub-centers in adjacent areas of Osaka City.

Urban renewal projects in these areas would have the priority to get governmental subsidies and loans and tax exemption. 2 main targets in Tokyo region are to introduce PFI for the construction of central governmental buildings and create big rescue operation centers in bay area.

Japanese cabinet designated additional areas for urban vitalization in late 2002. They are not only for central Japan but for the rural cities such as 3 areas in Sapporo City, 3 areas in Chiba, 4 in Yokohama, 2 in Kawasaki, 3 in Nagoya, 4 in Kyoto and its adjacent area, 4 in Kobe and its adjacent areas, 1 in Takamatsu, and 4 in North Kyushu and Fukuoka region.

In general, above mentioned area designation may become strong incentives to promote urban renewal but the total demand for the building floor is not so strong now and vacancy rate of office buildings in down town Tokyo is going to reach to 10% in 2002. Therefore, it may be more important to install the system of project chain such as new office buildings, rehabilitation or reconstruction of old office buildings including the change of the usage from office to residence, to promote the population migration into down town from suburbs, governmental purchase of suburban deteriorated residential areas, and land readjustment or renewal of those suburban areas. 

Overall, regional vitalization will be produced by the people there, and the unique ideas and efforts of the people are the fundamentals of vitalization. Government can only accelerate the desirable efforts of the people and supply necessary public services like transportation and governmental loans. 

3. Strategy for Sustainable Development

There are four big streams to approach sustainable development in Japan. The first is to control the development projects, the second is the introduction of the recycle system of materials and energy, the third is the introduction of less energy system and the forth is the introduction of clean energy systems such as solar generation and wind power stations. 

In the EAROPH world congress held in Auckland, New Zealand in 1996, I included the disaster prevention into the concept of sustainable development because the Kobe City destroyed by a great earthquake in January, 1995, can never be considered as a sustainable city.

First of all, it would be a matter of discussion that how we can keep the common understanding about the meaning of sustainable. Some may discuss about the problems on global environment and the other may say the importance of the preservation of natural environment and historical heritage. Our knowledge about the global environment is quite limited and we have a tendency to become more emotional rather than theoretical such as whale protection and CO2 problems. Even though, it should be highly appreciated to do the every effort to contribute to ease the environmental problems.

There may be another aspect in developing countries. It can be seen in the history of Great Britain and Japan. Those countries had been developed by industrialization in the middle of 20th century and faced severe environmental problems such as asthma (zensoku) and the disease caused by mercury. Japan invested huge amount of money for the prevention of those public nuisance in 1970s and became one of the most advanced country in the environmental problems and its administration. But in case of developing countries, the development of economy may have the priority rather than the environmental protection. Then the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 may useful in the meaning that the contribution of developed countries for the reduction of CO2 discharge in developing countries may be counted as the achievement of developed countries. This means that the developing countries can expect the additional investment of developed countries for the reduction of CO2 exhaustion in developing countries. 

Now return to the story of four streams of sustainable development.

To control the development project is the basic policy for the environmental protection. The environmental assessment system should be placed before the construction work for large scale developments. Japanese system is as follows.

1)      Larger scale projects decided by law are enforced to clear the environmental assessment procedure. They are express way and highway, dam, lake development, river, railway, airport, power station, waste treatment site, land reclamation, new town development including land readjustment project, industrial complex, freight complex, and port development project.

2)      Next scale project should be screened by the governor through the legal procedure and clear the legal assessment procedure if necessary.

3)      Preparation for the assessment should be carried out by the project body or the governor or mayor in case of city planning itself. This means that city planning itself sometimes decides large scale highways or other project sites in advance while the project body is not decided yet.

Assessment factors are air pollution, water pollution, noise, vibration, odor, ground subsidence, soil pollution, effect on valuable animals and plants, and landscape. 

Another movement is the constitution of local ordinance. In case of Funabashi City 20 km east of Tokyo, the ordinance for sustainable urban development was constituted in 1995. There is a discussion on this movement that such strong regulation by municipalities would become the hazard for the sound development and that, on the other hand, to set the procedure to ease the dispute among citizens would be necessary and make easier to get the people’s consensus. 

The ordinance of Funabashi City is consisted by 5 chapters such as general rules, coexistence with natural environment, coexistence with regional environment, coexistence with neighbor communities and miscellaneous rules. This ordinance mainly shows the procedure to settle the regional dispute.

The stream to introduce recycles of materials and energy is developing quickly in Japan supported by the following laws.

1)      Basic Law of the Creation of Recycling Society 

2)      Law to Promote Save Energy and Recycle 

3)      Construction Waste Recycling Law

4)      Natural Resource Recycling Law

5)      Electric Appliance Recycling Law

6)      Food Recycling Law

7)      Container and Casing Recycling Law

Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (Polluter Pay Principle) has been also introduced in Japan and every manufacturer is trying better to minimize the output of useless waste. It is already common to Japanese families to separate the trash and garbage into several groups and contribute to the recycling system.

The introduction of less energy system is also promoted by the following laws and taxation system.

1)      Law to Promote Save Energy and Recycle

2)      Law to Promote the Purchase of Eco-friendly Products

3)      Tax Reduction for Eco-friendly Automobiles

The gasoline mileage has been improved a lot in these days, for example, a car with 1.5 litter engine can drive over 15 kilometers by a litter of gasoline and the charge for the electricity consumption of air conditioner and refrigerator would be almost the half of before. Commuter’s railway system has also cut down the consumption of electricity to the half by installing regenerative brake equipment and motor. Heat insulating materials for housing and building have also made a great progress, and it is recommended to cover the building roof by green plants.

The introduction of clean energy systems such as solar generation and wind power stations is quickly popularized by the amendment of the law that authorized electricity supply companies can buy the electricity produced by solar generation, wind power station and some other generating systems such as garbage treatment center. Then, it became popular to install solar generating system on the roof as supplementary equipment of houses and buildings. The introduction of natural gas is also important matter and the government is trying to construct the gas pipeline system to across Siberia and import it from Russia and China. If we can replace oil by natural gas, the output of CO2 would be greatly decreased. 

In general, it is easy to say the importance of sustainable development but it is quite difficult to make clear what the sustainable development is. Another cause to make it difficult is that the human society is growing and changing at any time and never stops. This means that we must also change the region and community day by day. Even if our knowledge about the global environment system might be poor, we must try our best to ease the intensity of environmental problems. 



 Hirohide Konami (Ph.D)

Born in 1942 in Tokyo and graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1966. While working for the Ministry of Construction from 1966 to 1996, studied at Harvard University, Master in City Planning Course of Graduate School of Design from 1971 to 1972. Appointed as a Visiting Professor by The University of the Philippines, Graduate School of Urban and Regional Planning and The Asian Institute of Tourism in 1996 for one year. Then got the professorial position of Toyo University in Tokyo, Faculty of Regional Development Studies, in 1997. 

Major fields are urban transportation, sustainable development and land readjustment. 

Council and lifetime member of EAROPH, Fellow member of Japan Society of Civil Engineers, Vice President of Japan Academic Society of Hospitality Management, Executive member of Japan Society of Urban and Regional Planners, Council member of the City Planning Institute of Japan, President of City Planning Board of Kawasaki City, President of Land Planning Board of Gunma Prefecture, etc.

(Mail: hiro@konamike.net    Web: http://konamike.net/hiro/ )