“The City of Sendai is aiming to be a place where every single citizen can transform their various sense of values and experiences into the energy which will move society as a whole in a better direction. As mayor of this city, I am tackling problems such as inequality, and think that it is important to prepare an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to challenge themselves. I believe that sharing my own efforts and achievements with other Champion Mayors and learning best practices from around the world will be a great driving force in realizing an enriched society together. To build a bright future, I am looking forward to having a discussion with like-minded leaders all over the world.”
Mayor Kohri was born in 1957 in Sendai City. She entered a local broadcasting company and served as a broadcaster, news commentator, and senior director at the news production department until 2005. Afterwards, she won a seat as a member of the house of representatives four terms in a row, and held senior positions for 12 years from 2005 to 2017 such as the Parliamentary Secretary of Cabinet Office and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister in charge of Reconstruction in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE).
In August 2017, during her fourth term as a House of Representatives member, Mayor Kohri was inaugurated as Mayor of the City of Sendai and was re-elected in August 2021. Having devoted herself to the GEJE reconstruction since her time in the House of Representatives, she is aiming for Sendai to serve as a world model as a “resilient city which leaves no one behind.”
She has been building up a record of achievements including a test flight of the world’s first fully autonomous drones for tsunami evacuation alerts, and the Midterm Review of “Sendai Framework 2015-2030” which was implemented for the first time at the local level, rather than by the national government.
The “Sendai Framework,” which was adopted at the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (held in Sendai City, March 2015), incorporates experiences and lessons learned from the GEJE and is an international guideline rivaling SDGs and the Paris Agreement with the year 2030 as a goal.
Ever since the disaster, the City of Sendai has carried forward with building a “Disaster-Resilient and Environmentally Friendly City” together with citizens. The three pillars of this effort are city planning, human capacity building, and passing down experiences and lessons learned from the GEJE. In addition to education on disaster risk reduction (DRR) at all public elementary and junior high schools and an annual DRR symposium, in recent years the City has been paying particular attention to the “BOSAI (DRR)-TECH Project” focusing on technology that blends the fields of business, DRR, and technology.
In February 2023, which marked the midpoint of the “Sendai Framework,” our city announced the world’s first Midterm Review at the local government level for initiatives conducted along with the Framework. Moving forward, we wish to contribute to sustainable city planning in cities around the world by disseminating the Sendai Model, including our method for implementing the Midterm Review.
The City established a “Conference for Promoting the Active Involvement of Women and Young People” chaired by the Mayor of Sendai in June 2022 to directly understand the circumstances of struggling women and young people who have been placed in serious situations, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citizen groups exchanged ideas with organizations involved in supporting low income or single-parent households, young caregivers, hikikomori (those who are socially withdrawn), and those with disabilities. As a result, the City established the Children and Young People Counseling and Assistance Center and continues to conduct the “Outreach Consultation Support Project” and “Re-education Program” aimed at women facing difficulties.
Our goal is to realize a “society where all citizens can be actively involved” by concentrating our efforts to provide an environment where all women and young people facing an array of different circumstances are able to make their own choices and build a life that makes full use of their personal talents, regardless of background.
In the wake of the GEJE, business ventures in the Tohoku region were invigorated thanks to the mindsets of “for the people” and “for the community.” The “Assista” startup support center was established in 2014, and our city’s startup ratio has reached the second highest in the nation amongst ordinance-designated cities.
Sendai was also certified as a Startup Ecosystem City in 2020 in a program advanced by the Cabinet Office. The City designed a robust support system for startups linked with industry, academia, government, and financial institutions. To further strengthen support, we are looking to set up a new support hub to assist startups. This hub gives us high expectations for the further development of Sendai’s startup ecosystem as it will support breaking down the barriers of entry for startups, such as by providing new consultation opportunities aimed at startups, holding events that connect startups and supporters, and implementing initiatives to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurship.
Especially as Sendai is known as the “City of Students,” we want these initiatives to help prepare an environment where young people in Sendai can have a proactive attitude when challenging themselves with startup ventures.