“I perceive the achievement of inclusive growth as one of the most important initiatives that cities should engage in. Tokyo has been carrying out various measures to promote “diversity,” to become a diverse city where everyone can lead vibrant and active lives. I believe that sharing knowledge and experience on inclusive growth with other Champion Mayors will help us address issues facing Tokyo and the common challenges of the world’s cities.”
– Governor Yuriko Koike
Yuriko Koike has been the Governor of Tokyo since July 2016. In July 2020, she was re-elected to her second term of office. Prior to being elected to the post, she was active in national politics. She was a member of the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives for a total of 24 years from 1992, during which she held major posts including Minister of the Environment, Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security Affairs, Minister of Defense, and Director of the Committee on Budget of the House of Representatives. As the first woman to serve as the Minister of Defense and the Governor of Tokyo, she is paving the way for women to be more active in society. With a BA in Sociology from Cairo University, she is fluent in English and Arabic, and was a prominent news anchor before entering politics.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is accelerating efforts toward “carbon half,” a plan to halve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, with the aim of delivering a Zero Emission Tokyo that will contribute to achieving net zero CO2 emissions worldwide by 2050. The Tokyo Environmental Master Plan sets out specific targets, and the Zero Emission Tokyo Strategy summarises the city’s vision for achieving zero emissions and outlines specific efforts and a roadmap. The strategy aims to develop mitigation measures to halt climate change and adaptation measures for the impacts of climate change that have already begun to occur. Tokyo will do this by making renewable energy a major energy source and increasing the use of hydrogen energy, expanding zero emission buildings, and promoting the spread of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). Tokyo has also developed three other individual plans and strategies for fields requiring prioritisaton: Tokyo Climate Change Adaptation Policy, the Tokyo Plastic Strategy, and the Tokyo ZEV Promotion Strategy.
Additionally, Tokyo has set an energy consumption target to reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency. The city also aims to expand renewable energy use, set a renewable electricity use target (approx. 50% by 2030), and create hydrogen–based systems. Tokyo’s Master Plan for Housing has prioritised efforts to reduce emissions from buildings. The city is expanding subsidies for private housing, such as for the insulation of doors and windows, and the installation of solar panels and storage batteries, and improving the environmental performance of public housing. The city is also using a real estate acquisition tax exemption to further increase “Tokyo zero-emission houses.” To expand Tokyo’s use of renewable energy, the city is considering making it obligatory for houses and other buildings to install photovoltaic power systems.
Tokyo is improving infrastructure supporting zero emission vehicles to increase their use. The city is providing grants to bus operators that install hydrogen stations that can also be used by other vehicles, accelerating the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in metropolitan-owned facilities, and providing subsidies to individuals installing charging points in their homes.
In order to help green finance take root, Tokyo has established a fund to promote decarbonisation innovation by startups and other companies.
Tokyo has implemented training programs to accelerate the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The city is implementing specialised vocational training programs to produce talent for cutting-edge IT fields. Tokyo is also hosting large-scale match-up events to encourage a shift of human resources to the digital sector.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government offers support to entrepreneurs for starting up their businesses and business development thereafter, through cooperation with various facilities. These services are available to everyone, from those who are interested in entrepreneurship, to those who have just established their business. Tokyo Start-up Station provides integrated support from the idea phase to the creation of the start-up and offers entrepreneur seminars and events, support formulating a business plan and entrepreneur grants. Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center provides support with the start-up process and covers administrative procedures. Tokyo Employment Consultation Center provides legal advice to prevent employment-related troubles.
Promoting the active participation of women is an urgent issue, as Japan’s world ranking in gender equality remains low. Tokyo Metropolitan Government is implementing various measures. For example, the Vision Network by Female Governors and Mayors Conference is a meeting of female governors and mayors nationwide, held in collaboration with female ambassadors to Japan and female executives, to encourage women to participate actively in leadership roles.
Furthermore, in order to promote the participation of women in the decision-making process to reflect a diversity of opinions in policies, Tokyo is introducing a quota system in the councils and advisory groups of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, mandating that men and women each make up a minimum of 40 percent of the members of a group .
The city is also revising its Comprehensive Plan for Promotion of Gender Equality to change the way people of all ages think, to empower women in the workplace, and eradicate violence between men and women in all forms.
Tokyo Metropolitan University, founded by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, offers new opportunities for learning for motivated individuals aged 50 and older. The program provides unique experiences and offers opportunities for interaction with other students. Tokyo has also launched an initiative enabling seniors to better monitor their health by using smartwatches and other devices. Through self-care everyday behavioural changes are encouraged. Furthermore, by using the information collected as big data for the development of health management apps and other purposes, the foundation for community-based integrated care systems will be strengthened. Tokyo is also working to expand employment opportunities for senior citizens by creating a ‘senior intern’ program where senior citizens can work and acquire skills as interns at companies. This internship program supports senior citizens in their renewed participation in society by providing them with learning opportunities to re-enter the workforce or find new employment after retirement, while also providing companies with the knowledge needed to effectively employ older workers.
Tokyo has introduced one-to-one computing in metropolitan high schools. To ensure that all students in metropolitan high schools possess their own computer, a system to subsidise all households for the cost of purchasing a computer was established, setting the contribution payment at 30,000 yen. For households with three or more children, the contribution is halved. Industrial high schools, which have fostered the talent supporting the foundations of Tokyo’s industries, will be reborn as schools of the new age that produce the personnel needed to provide suitably skilled personnel to support the digital transition.
Life in Tokyo
Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation “TSUNAGARI”, established by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, operates the Tokyo Intercultural Portal Site, a website designed to help support foreign residents by promoting intercultural cohesion. The site provides information about living in the city and systems such as education, employment and health. It also provides contact information and links to other websites where they can find information about topics such as Japanese culture, the rules of daily life, disaster prevention organisations, community groups and leisure activities. It also lists support groups for foreign nationals, events including Japanese lessons, and free multilingual legal consultations.