Overview of the International Symposium of the 19th Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan

Picture Symposium 2018

  • Date:
    Friday, August 3 2018
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Cities in Competition -Creativity and Diversity-"
  • Details:
    • ○Opening Address
      Satoshi Iue
      (Representative Director,Asia Pacific Forum,Awaji Conference Japan)
    • ○Welcome Tribute
      Toshizo Ido
      (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)
    • ○Awards Ceremony for the 17th Asia Pacific Research Prize(Iue Prize)
    • ○Explanation for the purpose of the Awaji Conference
      Hiroko Tanaka
      (President,Yumekobo Co., Ltd.)
    • ○Commemorative Lectures
      "Suggestions for Increasing the Appeal of Cities in Japan"
      Speaker:David Atkinson(President, Konishi Decorative Arts and Crafts Co., Ltd.)
    • ○Panel Discussion
      "What is Growth Strategy for Cities to Have International Competitiveness?"
      Coordinator:Shigeyuki Abe(Advisor,Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)
      Shuhei Ishimaru(Director General,Fukuoka Directive Council)
      Naomi Koshi(Mayor of Otsu City)
      Masayuki Sasaki(Distinguished Professor,Faculty of Economics,Doshisha University/ Senior Researcher,Headquarters for Vitalizing Regional Cultures,Agency for Cultural Affairs)
    • ○Coordinator:
      Koji Murata(Professor,Faculty of Law,Doshisha University)

The symposium began with an opening address by Representative Director Satoshi Iue of the Awaji Conference Japan,followed by a welcome tribute by Governor Toshizo Ido of Hyogo Prefecture,the awards ceremony for the Asia Pacific Research Prize,and then an explanation of the purpose of the Awaji Conference Japan by President Hiroko Tanaka of Yumekobo Co.,Ltd.Afterwards,a commemorative lecture and a panel discussion were held,with Professor Koji Murata of the Faculty of Law of Doshisha University serving as coordinator.

The summary of the commemorative lecture and an overview of the panel discussion are presented as follows:

Commemorative Lecture- Suggestions for Increasing the Appeal of Cities in Japan
Speakers: David Atkinson(President, Konishi Decorative Arts and Crafts Co., Ltd.)
1.Why Tourism Strategies?

The Japanese government is working hard on tourism for one reason only:the declining population.

Even though the problem confronting Japan is truly severe,it generates little sense of crisis.The greatest problem for Japan is population decrease,rather than an aging population with a lower birth rate.It is estimated that the working-age population in Japan(aged 15-64)will decrease by 32.64 million by 2060.Although it is said that Japan will experience a more than 30% decline in its population in the future,the number of those aged 65 or over will increase by 2.2%.In short,the largest problem lies not in the decrease in the entire population, but in the decrease of the working-age population,the largest contributors to the nation’s consumption and production.

There are only two countermeasures available.

One is to demolish a significant part of the supply infrastructure that has been constructed so far in Japan.The other is to import consumers rather than relying on Japanese people,that is,to bring people in from foreign countries.

To implement the second countermeasure,there are two means.While one is to receive immigrants,the other is to attract many foreign tourists,who will serve as an alternative to Japanese consumers.

2.Growth of the Tourism Industry

Japan needs to squeeze out money to cover social security for older generations,meaning that the country cannot afford to spend lavishly on cultural property.

For culture and cultural property,it has now become necessary to shift strategies so that they will make an explicit contribution to society and the economy.To achieve this while experiencing population decline,Japan has only one option available:to attract people from abroad.

Consequently,there is a growing awareness of the importance of tourism strategies,leading to an increase in investment in Japanese nature,cities,cultural property and history as precious resources.

This entails another problem ? which tourism strategies should be adopted?

3.Key Words for Success in Tourism Strategies

When you consider cities’competitive edges,the key lies in objectivity and analysis ability.In 2013,the number of travelers to Japan was only approximately 10 million,but it is estimated that this figure will increase to some 32million this year.

How and what has changed?This can be simply summarized as a change in people’s awareness.

How has it changed?The answer is objective analysis.Analysis of the motives of sightseers to Japan has revealed that not only the four conditions of“nature,”“climate,”“culture,”and“cuisine,”which are also often emphasized by sightseers to other countries,are key words,but also“diversity.”In Japan,travelers can enjoy both beach resorts and skiing.In addition,Japanese food culture is highly evaluated not simply for Japanese cuisine itself,but also for its diversity.Japan is highly regarded as one of the few countries where travelers can enjoy almost every type of cuisine,such as French, Italian and Chinese.

The key point in the success of the tourism strategies adopted by the Japanese government lies in objectivity.

While collecting data, the government conducts a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative research.

4.Value and Added Value

When you consider tourism strategies for Japan and competitive edges of cities,the concept of“value and added value”is the foremost factor.For example,all national treasures are mere structures if they simply stand without providing any explanations or special experiences for visitors.In that case,such treasures certainly have value, but do not have added value.

However,if any explanation is provided regarding,for example,the historical background of the relevant treasure,viewers will be able to appreciate the depth,length,importance and significance of its history,meaning that value is added.When merely viewed,cultural property does not generate much value.

When a wide variety of experience opportunities are provided,however,value will be added to such cultural property.

This magic of transforming something non-profitable into money lies in activities.

The key is to what extent added value can be realized.If you disseminate something simply saying“It’s great,”it will not generate any value.

The Japanese archipelago stretches extensively,featuring many islands,a wide variety of historical cultures,and diverse dishes.If you actually disseminate these characteristics and ensure sufficient development so that they are easily accessible to consumers,a considerable volume of economic impact will be generated.

A wide variety of destination management organizations(DMOs)have been established and a wide variety of PR videos have been produced,in order to implement tourism strategies.However,it is much more important to solve each of the immediate problems for sightseers.

5.Japanese People’s Failure to Demonstrate Their Potential Capacities

To implement your tourism strategies,you need to draw people from abroad.Even if you explain the attractive features of sightseeing destinations in Japan,such explanations alone will sound groundless or merely symbolic.

What about road signs?What about night life?Do visitors who actually come to Japan really enjoy their stay?

Addressing these problems is more important.Even if there are potential capacities,they are not significant as a tangible product,unless they are developed sufficiently.

Among most countries,education level corresponds with productivity.Japan,however,is the only country to which this theory does not apply.Ranked fourth in the world in terms of HR assessment,Japan is ranked 29th in the world in terms of income level.The problem with Japan resides in its failure to demonstrate its potential capacity.

6.Toward Solving the Problems

The critical problem in the field of such development is an insufficient number of five-star hotels.Thailand,whose prices are only 40% of those of Japan,is ranked 26th in the world in terms of tourism revenue per foreign traveler,but is ranked fourth in the world in the total amount.The number of travelers to Thailand is 30 million,almost the same as the number of foreign visitors to Japan.Nevertheless,while the former is ranked fourth,Japan is ranked 11th(2016).I cannot figure out why Japan cannot do what another Asian country can do.

If you do not work on development,centering on this problem,you will not be able to ensure opportunities for travelers to spend money in Japan or serve as revenue sources,despite having sufficient tourism resources.

Since Japan is ranked fourth in the world in terms of HR assessment,it will not be so difficult to raise its income level from 29th place in the world.It is of great value to solve each problem with objectivity and a right awareness.The problem is not whether you can do it,but whether you will.


Panel Discussion: What Is the Growth Strategy for Cities to Have International Competitiveness?
Coordinator:Shigeyuki Abe(Advisor,Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)
 Shuhei Ishimaru
(Director General,Fukuoka Directive Council)
 Naomi Koshi(Mayor of Otsu City)
 Masayuki Sasaki(Distinguished Professor,Faculty of Economics,Doshisha University / Senior Researcher,Headquarters for Vitalizing Regional Cultures,Agency for Cultural Affairs)

Abe: Let’s start with your brief presentations on your themes,before going on to a discussion from a wide variety of perspectives regarding growth strategies for cities to gain international competitiveness.

Growth Strategy for Cities to Have International Competitiveness
Shuhei Ishimaru
(Director General,Fukuoka Directive Council)
1.What is the Fukuoka Directive Council(FDC)?

The Fukuoka Directive Council(FDC)is a think & action tank covering the entire process from establishing growth strategies for Greater Fukuoka to implementing them.We have the future vision of developing Greater Fukuoka into a business hub in East Asia.Based on specific key performance indicators(KPIs),we proceed with a wide variety of measures.Our present membership comprises 172 organizations from the local industry,public,academic and private sectors.In addition,more than half of them operate mainly outside Greater Fukuoka,especially in Tokyo.

2.Community Building in the Age of Competition between Cities

The FDC operates based on the principle that while networking the cities in the Kyushu region,we need to take advantage of the entire region’s strong points and make up for each city’s weak points.At the same time,in this age of competition between cities,we are required to consider how to beat international competition.

We need to consider not only sustaining the sources that have been underpinning the economic growth of Fukuoka so far,but also causing innovation and leveraging our strong points in order to beat international competition and give Fukuoka an outstanding presence in the global arena.

3.FDC’s Regional Strategies

In addition to its geographical advantage,Fukuoka has strong competitive edges such as HR diversity, excellent citizens,proximity to other Asian countries,and high quality of life.

At the FDC, we would like to establish a business model of encouraging start-up,offering financial and demonstration opportunities to help realize start-up,and providing foreign countries with solutions generated in this process,thereby earning foreign currency.Our future vision is to develop Greater Fukuoka into a business hub in East Asia.

4.Future Vision for Public-Private Cooperation

We need to create service models to accommodate new social needs that can no longer be handled under the current social system.In the current situation,however,such models will never be available if we simply continue to wait until some political measures are presented.

Those who would like to launch businesses need to start ahead of others,create prototypes,and develop them into services or products.If necessary,the region where they are located needs to provide them with support.

In addition,if some regulations need to be relaxed or tightened,I believe that flexible solutions might be available and some value might be added,if the relevant region ensures a reflection of the change into a social system.

Competition between Municipalities ? What Lies Ahead of the Competition
Naomi Koshi
(Mayor of Otsu City)
1.Background of the Competition between Municipalities

Today,municipalities are competing for people.The largest problem of Japan lies in its population decrease.

The annual decrease in the Japanese population is almost equivalent to the population of Otsu City(340,000).

Affected by the population decrease,municipalities are suffering a decline in individual municipal tax,their main revenue source.On the other hand,a rise in the social security cost due to the increasingly aging population is boosting their expenditure.This trend is found throughout Japan.

2.Municipalities Competing for Population

With this background,municipalities are now competing for population, especially residents and visitors.

There are two types of increase in the number of residents:natural increase and social increase.While the former is the result of efforts to enable people to have more children,the latter is the result of efforts to attract more residents from other municipalities.

At the same time,it is also important to increase the number of workers,namely those supporting municipal administration.The population that is growing today is senior citizens.In Otsu City,we are focusing on establishing an environment where women can work more comfortably.Moreover,in Japan at large,the number of foreign workers is increasing.

If we raise the quality of public services to attract many more residents from other municipalities,it will lead to competition between municipalities,and ultimately to an increase in the quality of the entire public services.In that sense,I feel that competition between municipalities has the positive impact of improving services for citizens and transforming them into universal services.

3.Role Division between the Public and Private Sectors

Despite such municipalities’efforts to increase their population,however,the entire Japanese population is shrinking.In this severe situation,it is necessary to diminish the role to be played by municipalities.In addition,since Japan has an inappropriate balance between tax burden and welfare services,Japan needs to reduce expenditures.To do so,it is necessary to leave many things to the private sector.

In Otsu City,we have left to the private sector the redevelopment of the former velodrome and the operation of stores in a public park.Moreover,we are relaxing some regulations to take advantage of the private sector’s capabilities.We need to make good use of their capabilities.

Creativity and Urban Development
Masayuki Sasaki
(Distinguished Professor,Faculty of Economics,Doshisha University / Senior Researcher,Headquarters for Vitalizing Regional Cultures,Agency for Cultural Affairs)
1.Collapse of the Myth of Global Cities and the Rise of Creative Cities

The terrorist attack of September 11,2001 was followed by the collapse of the myth of competing between global cities centering on finance.

The myth has been replaced with the newly emerging urban model of“creative cities,”meaning that cities with many creative places to attract creative human resources who will conceive unexpected ideas will develop in the future.

The Agency for Cultural Affairs,Japan,is shifting its support priority toward revitalizing cities through culture and arts.

Amidst this situation,in 2004,the UNESCO launched the Creative City Network,aiming to establish a network to help many cities realize development based on cultural diversity.Covering seven thematic areas,the network currently has a membership of 180 cities.

2.Endeavor Made by Kanazawa,a Creative City with Spontaneous Development

Kanazawa City has striven to become the first Japanese city to produce a creative city vision.Led by the local economic society,the city has been recognized as a City of Crafts and Folk Arts in the UNESCO scheme.

It will become unavoidable for young people today to face competition with AI in the future.Since a lack of creativity means a lack of jobs,cities taking the lead in such efforts will be able to enhance their advantages.

3.Efforts Made by Kobe,a City of Design

Kobe has defined itself as a city of design in line with a proposal from the local economic society.Based on the concept of comprehensively proceeding with“Community Designs,”“Daily Life Designs,”and“Business Designs,”the city has been implementing a wide variety of projects.The city has been recognized as a Creative City of Design in the UNESCO scheme.

4.Creative City Network Helping Japan Take on a New,Creative Form

To spread this trend throughout Japan,the Creative City Network of Japan has been established to cover the entire Japan.Today,106 municipalities are members of the network.

Since it is expected that the network will play the main role in the future,I believe that a spread of the Creative City Network will help Japan to take on a new, creative form.


1.Declining Population/Aging Society with Low Birth Rate and Urban Strategy


Abe: The departure point of Mr.Atkinson’s discussion was an observation that although we can discuss supply issues for dealing with the declining working-age population,it is foreign tourists who will make up for falling demand.I would like you to freely express your opinions about these matters once again to deepen the discussion.


Ishimaru: Previously,there was an idea of attracting people to each city in inter-city competition,but no system was in place to send tourists to other cities.

Accordingly,we are thinking whether and how we can create demand throughout the Kyushu region in a time of declining population by networking cities and increasing overall added value in the system of sending tourists to other cities as well as the network.


Koshi: I would like to know examples of urban revitalization through flexible combination of public and private organizations,especially cases where numerous small public spaces are created.

Also,I would like to learn about the situation of private accommodations for rent in tourist cities like Barcelona.


Sasaki: There are many foreign workers in Barcelona,but parks are located in appropriate places and public arts are placed there.People then gather together in the parks and the art serves as a catalyst to bring people of different nationalities together as friends.This is a kind of multicultural coexistence,and such an inclusive use of art is impressive.

Tourists from around the world come to Barcelona,which has resulted in a decline in the quality of life of its citizens.In response,the strategic plan“Barcelona Tourism 2020”has recently been developed.It is aimed at controlling tourist facilities to maintain and balance the quality of life of residents.


Koshi: The declining population makes technologies such as automatic driving all the more necessary as a means of addressing the issue.In that sense,as the population further decreases in society,more innovation and a sharing economy will be required city-wide.


Ishimaru: Fukuoka provides a field for a demonstration experiment as a city.We hope that the city can provide a system to demonstrate businesses and technologies that can solve conventional problems by utilizing new technologies so that solutions will be gathered from all over the world, and new values will be created and developed.

Also,to build a mutually beneficial relationship,over the past two years we have established a cooperative framework of relationships with about 10 cities.We are beginning to create something like new collaborations as part of this inter-city cooperation.


2.Strengthening Competitiveness through Inter-City and Wide-Area Cooperation


Abe: It is desirable that Otsu City also has an organization like FDC.Is there such a movement?


Koshi: There is no such movement right now,but this kind of organization is very good as an agency related to both private and governmental organizations.


Abe: I think this movement will progress further if cooperation is established not only with foreign countries but also with cities in Japan.


Ishimaru: In collaborating with different cities,I found that there is a system like FDC everywhere.Having such counterparts is very important from the viewpoint of inter-city cooperation.

Moreover,FDC serves as a one-stop organization in the area,knows better what other agencies are doing than the local government,and thus is characterized by its function as a hub,which is well received by other countries.


Abe: For example,how many inquiries do you receive annually?


Ishimaru: We have so many inquiries that we receive at least one from somewhere each week.

Facilitating industries to export their products,which was discussed earlier,will lead to earning foreign currency and exporting solutions we have developed if FDC can provide businesses as solutions.Thus,we want to enhance such a function.


3.Impact of Attracting Foreign Tourists on Urban Management


Abe: The interesting thing about the topic of Barcelona is that the city has attracted too many tourists and now is moving toward restricting travelers.What do you think is going to happen in Japan?


Koshi: Foreign visitors have quadrupled in Otsu City over the last four years.We are considering renovating machiya,traditional Japanese town houses to be used as hotels to increase accommodations as a policy of Otsu City,so we hope more foreign tourists will come to our city.

In Kyoto,land prices have soared and only hotels can be built,and therefore families who cannot afford to live there have been moving to Otsu City.

When thinking about the role of cities,I feel it is difficult to keep a balance given the situation in Kyoto where tourists are increasing as residents are decreasing.


Sasaki: Kyoto has experienced a machiya boom,and the phenomenon in which young artists and foreigners prefer to live in the town houses lasted about 10 years.Due to an influx of inbound tourists,however,in some areas it has become difficult to make good use of machiya and live a creative life unique to Kyoto.

After all,certain regulations are necessary.Kyoto has cracked down on private accommodations for rent that have not obtained permission to the extent possible,but the increasing trend has not stopped yet.

Pollution caused by tourism is concentrated in some areas while no tourists are present in other areas,and the land could be sold in pieces if it is left without any use in other areas such as a former feudal lord’s garden.

Thus,detailed management on area-by-area basis is becoming necessary.


Ishimaru: Many cruise ships come to Fukuoka,and since thousands of people get off the ship all together,an operation to handle them all at once is required.

Because tourists will be concentrated in some areas with the arrival of cruise passengers,flexible management is needed.Since this problem is becoming more apparent,we will have to cooperate widely with not only Fukuoka City but also surrounding municipalities.


4.Future Vision of Japan and Urban Strategy


Ishimaru: It is desirable that each city has an organization or system serving as a counterpart of FDC.I hope that a network supporting regional issues,including the sharing of human resources,will be developed,and a system like community-gathering will be further spread.


Koshi: Although the declining population is a common challenge throughout Japan,the solution is different in each city,which drives competition.I realized once again that this difference makes each city more attractive.


Sasaki: In the age of 100+-year life,the population may not suddenly decrease.

However,we must consider how creatively elderly people can contribute to society not only when young people decrease,but also when the proportion of elderly people increases.

What I wanted to discuss most today is how many places that enable people to work and live in creative ways can be created.


Abe: I agree with you 100%.At a conference recently in Bangkok,I heard that lifelong learning should be implemented in any case in the future.It was mentioned in the conference that if people continued working until the age of 80 in the future,they would have not only one but five to six opportunities to be employed.

It was also noted that because they will need to return to university for retraining,a system for supporting this should be established.

The falling birthrate is a problem,but I think that if lifelong learning is fully executed,Japan will no longer need to rely solely on the demand from foreign tourists.


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