sustainability in Japan

Smart City in Japan

Smart City is a great complex solution for social, economic, governmental issues, especially large cities come across with. In times of depopulation and population ageing, frequent disasters and infection risks, there is a high need in smart and intelligent system, which helps to coordinate, manage all the elements, and prevent inefficient resource utilization and negative impacts from natural factors. City has its energetic, financial, educational, transport, healthcare and many other resources, which can be systemized into one system, aiming at citizens well-being.

Japan is actively contributing into Society 5.0 concept — growing a society, where economic growth and social problems solutions are procured by the latest technology and digitalization. One of the step is to promote Smart City on a governmental level, by developing special programs and providing support.

Japan has leading urban infrastructure, which is its solid strength. First of all, this is a strong experience in eco-city development. Smart demand and response, CEMS (Cluster community energy management System), HEMS (Home energy management system), BEMS (Building energy management system), local production for local consumption energy system and other concepts and technologies are actively implemented in Japan.

Great and famous example of sustainable and eco-town is KitaKushu City in Fukuoka Prefecture, which started its way of a green city from early 90s. In 2008 it was chosen as Environmental model city among other 13 cities in Japan. In 2010 Asia Low Carbon Center was built and in 2011 the city was selected by OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development) as Green Growth model City. More than 27 recycle sites, 30% decrease in carbon emissions, well-built local production for local consumption energy system by implementing Toda combined heat and power equipment, with the help of which it became possible to supply hydrogen power to living facilities, shopping centers, as well as a power to local eco-farms. KitaKyshu is also a great example of citizen cooperation, when 6783 people contributed 17.7 million yen to build 1.5MW solar plant.

The next Japan’s strength is a Transit-oriented development (TOD), that means a city development, centered on public transport, especially railway stations and surrounding infrastructure. This includes offices, hotels and commercial facilities, organized in a smart and intelligent way, that helps to avoid traffic jams and other problems.

A good example of a digital integration into a city is a partnership between Kakogawa City and NEC (Nippon Electric Corporation). By implementing crowd consensus formation platform called Decidim, citizens, companies and administrative bodies can act together to find solutions for current issues. Platform includes Funding and Execution service segments for citizens to take part in each topic.

And one more important aspect for Japan in a disaster-resilient cities. Japan is developing and implementing domestic and worldwide technologies, as well as management and policy on a governmental level, e.g. BCP (Business Continuity Plan) to foresee disaster, be ready to it and to immediately react on a threat. After Fukushima disaster, resilience became one of the highest priorities for Smart Cities development in Japan.

Recently created Kodacho in Aichi Prefecture is a project, focused on disaster resilience. The city projected to function in a dual mode, that means providing medical care both in regular and emergency time with the help of local community. Another part of this city concept is Mobility Blend system, with the usage of different means of transport, including local drivers, especially in areas difficult to reach. As well as a smart agriculture system, with the help of which it is possible to guarantee provision of food in the time of emergency.

And the third, the power of digital world, digital transformation bottom-up aspect also became a highly prioritized direction, to build a data-driven city, using Ai, Big Data, IoT technologies with compliance to security and privacy.

A great example of area smart city is Ootemachi-Marunouch-Yurakucho district in Tokyo City, where Area Management Digital Transformation Model is implemented to understand city area needs in real time and increase effectiveness of management and integrate 3 main points — creativity, amenity, efficiency.

The power of data could be used in cross-field way to cover not only one aspect of city being, but many of them. Companies, governmental organizations, communities, NPO/NGO on the one hand, transport, logistic, medicine, energy, education, environment, all could be connected into one system called Super City, that is also well-known and fastly growing in Japan. This approach is more bottom-down level, government-driven by implementing Special Measures on Regulations with a goal in 2030 to build a society of future.

Great example of transferring from Smart City to Super City could be AizuWakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture with using ICT.

AizuWakamatsu is using BigData in 9 different segments — mobility, finance technology, education, healthcare, energy, tourism, dining, agriculture, production, resilience. With the help of API and data model, it is possible not only to combine data within the smart city, but also interact with other smart cities and form a Super-city system. Data, gained from people, is collected to solve different city problems with the help of Opt-In data which are provided by citizens with ID.

Japan is actively takes part in smart city development in foreign countries.

In Australia in NewSouthWelsh there is a large city development around new airport which is planned to be opened in 2026. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will provide energy management system, Hitachi and NEC 5G ・IoT・AI technology, Mitsubishi Sumitomo Bank all MoU between districts related to business support.

Panasonic is contributing to SmartCty development in Denver, USA by proving leading technology for microgrid, experimental system for smart LED street light, using its experience in Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town.

In 2018 December NTT Group took part in Nevada state and Las-Vegas smart city development by providing public safety solution and technology. Later in 2019 these technologies expanded to service for citizens.

AEON Mall and JOIN are cooperating by joint investment and participation in urban development of central part of the city in Jakarta In Indonesia by providing leading TOD technology support, where Japan is highly evaluated as a leader in technology for disaster prevention.

Governmental support

Japan is providing various grants and support for smart city development both for domestic and foreign projects.

JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) supports TOD technology development, smart city projects in developing countries.
JBIC is providing financial support for using Japanese technology in Smart City, Smart Energy, Green Mobility.

NEXI (Nippon Export Investment Insurance) provides insurance to cover risks for Japanese companies who are taking part in foreign business activities, especially for environmental innovation projects.

JOIN (Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development) is helping subsidiaries responsible for transportation projects and urban development.

JICT (Development of Japan ICT and Postal Services) is helping with investments to ICT infrastructure for foreign smart city projects.

NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) is supporting export of Japanese technology to foreign countries and projects. Energy efficiency technology, Mobility (Maas), energy management, development of foreign smart city projects.#nbsp.

Ministry of Environment — Financing Programme for JCM Model Projects is proving initial costs for implementing Japanese technology.


Japan is a great place for Smart City development projects, especially in TOD technology, BEMS, CEMS technology, disaster prevention aspects. Government is open for financial support for domestic projects and foreign initiatives. Smart City and its updated Super City version are highly prioritized direction on the way of building society of future.
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