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The Governor's Corner

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Policy Speech by the Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, at the First Regular Session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, 2017

6. Tokyo drives the Japanese economy

Tokyo is the engine of the Japanese economy. By pursuing an aggressive growth strategy, we will emerge victorious in the increasingly harsh competition against the world’s cities, drive the sustainable growth of the Japanese economy, and give a boost to Abenomics.

(Making Tokyo a prime destination)

Last year, about 24.04 million foreign visitors came to Japan, surpassing 20 million in one year for the first time. To achieve the goal of welcoming an annual 25 million foreign travelers to Tokyo by 2020, we will strategically implement measures based on the “Action Plan 2017 for Tourism Industry Promotion” released last month and make Tokyo the world’s prime tourist destination.

To promote tourism, it is very important to have a marketing point of view. We must get a clear picture of how people in other countries view Tokyo and Japan. Recently, we received valuable proposals from Ms. Susan H. Roos, the wife of the former U.S. ambassador, on Tokyo’s promotion of tourism. To have the attractions of Tokyo better understood throughout the world, the creation of a new and intuitive logo and slogan is now underway. Together with outside experts, we will continue discussing tourism promotion and the branding of Tokyo while giving due consideration to overseas perspectives.

To increase impressive landscapes quintessential to Tokyo, we will employ lighting effects even more. Cherry blossoms and autumn leaves commonly seen in your neighborhood will gain additional charm when they are lit up at night, just as are some waterfront areas and gardens. By taking such measures, including the use of projection mapping, let’s draw out another face of our city.

It is also important to bring more MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conventions, exhibitions) events to Tokyo. In order to increase “unique venues”—venues for receptions and other purposes that provide a special atmosphere—eight metropolitan facilities will be used as models. We will improve these facilities to better accommodate such events, and actively promote them. The enrichment of unique venues will lead to attracting more MICE events.

(Becoming Asia’s top global financial and economic center)

We will make Tokyo Asia’s No. 1 global financial and economic center, which continues to attract people, goods, money, and information from around the world. While paying careful attention to the turbulent international situation, we will take the path to becoming a city on the leading edge that will be the world’s destination of choice.

<Accelerating efforts to attract foreign companies>

For Tokyo to attract more businesses from the financial sector as befits a global financial city, particularly companies and talent in the asset management field and emerging fields such as fintech, we must provide support according to their needs. We are now ready to start offering free consultations and one-stop financial support services. In addition, a system allowing foreign nationals to come to Japan to provide housekeeper services, which I proposed at a National Strategic Special Zone Meeting for the Tokyo Area soon after I took office, is also set to begin. We will thus provide detailed support to overseas companies advancing to Tokyo on matters from the decision to start up business in Tokyo to ensuring the comfortable lives of their employees here. To sustain a steady stream of companies from abroad to Tokyo at a time when competition between the world’s cities is intensifying, we must also delve into essential issues without being held back by preconceived notions and vested interests. An advisory panel that includes professionals from Japan and abroad is studying issues such as regulations, tax rules, and even industry practices, as well as enhancing education and ensuring the fiduciary duty of financial institutions. We will draw on the panel’s report to compile by autumn a new concept that could be called the Tokyo version of the financial big bang. Tokyo will sell itself to the world by doing all it can as a forerunner, while also asking the central government to play its part in this as national strategy.

<Spurring innovation, which lays the groundwork for growth>

The key to constantly generating innovation, which brings vitality and growth to the economy, lies in SMEs, which account for 99 percent of the companies in Tokyo and possess high technological capabilities. To help SMEs expand into growth industries and create new value, we will provide them with diverse forms of support in areas from capital investment and technology, to improvement of productivity through introduction of IoT. We will also promote the development of technologies that align with the TMG’s policies in welfare, the environment, and other fields. It is also important to encourage entrepreneurs and business startups looking for opportunities in the global arena and nurture them to be the next generation of innovators. The satellite center of the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center, which provides centralized services for procedures needed to start up a business, will be opened in the Shibuya district in April, and later on, in the Marunouchi district as well. The network with the Tokyo Startup Station will be bolstered to build a seamless and comprehensive system to support matters from preparing to start up a company to business establishment procedures and the launching of operations. We will also link initiatives with the “Global Financial City: Tokyo” concept to help local businesses build a network with large companies and investors at home and abroad, and attract investment through the establishment of a venture capital fund.

As for autonomous driving, which is symbolic of leading-edge technology, at a recently held National Strategic Special Zone Meeting for the Tokyo Area we proposed the establishment of a public-private “subcommittee for an autonomous driving regulatory sandbox” for the implementation of feasibility tests aimed at reaching the fully autonomous “Level 4,” and the proposal was approved. In order to conduct state-of-the-art tests in the vicinity of Haneda Airport and elsewhere while securing safety, we will actively utilize Japan’s first “sandbox” special zone, where prior procedures that need to be taken are significantly simplified.

An ordinance bill to set up a fund for creating innovation has also been presented to this regular session of the Assembly. New technologies sustainably drive the growth of Tokyo. We will lay down the solid groundwork to ensure that happens.

(Tokyo: A sustainable and leading environment-oriented city)

We will roll out advanced measures in the field of the environment as well.

<Realizing a smart energy city>

Switching to LED lighting is essential for a smart energy city. For starters, the TMG will introduce LED lighting at metropolitan facilities. For private-owned buildings, we will encourage the switch to LED lighting by popularizing a “green lease” system in which the landlord and tenant share the benefits of energy saving. To give a big boost to the effort to spread the use of LED lighting in households, we will launch a fair initiative where people can receive one LED bulb for free in exchange for two incandescent bulbs. If, for example, households replace 2 million incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, that will lead to a reduction of 180 million kWh in annual power consumption—equivalent to the amount used at the TMG main buildings over about five years. By having the citizens realize that individual actions can make a big difference, we will change their mindset and have them share our aspiration. This will give rise to a large energy-saving movement in Tokyo.

We will also advance initiatives for the energy-efficiency of the houses themselves. We will implement measures such as providing support for the installation of high thermal insulated windows and spreading the TMG’s recommended eco-house standards to reduce household energy consumption.

For the large-scale use of hydrogen energy, which does not produce CO2 emissions when used, we will take measures such as adding fuel cell vehicles to the Toei bus fleet and conducting a demonstration project for a fuel cell forklift at Haneda Airport.

To strongly advance our environmental policies backed by investment by the people of Tokyo and throughout Japan, we will issue the Tokyo Green Bond, worth 20 billion yen, next fiscal year. The Tokyo Environment Supporter Bond, which we issued last December on a trial basis, sold out on the first day, showing that people in Tokyo and the rest of Japan are very interested in environmental protection. We will raise this momentum, and powered by a broad foundation of support, we will further hone Tokyo as a city leading the world in environmental policies.

<Creating and preserving greenery>

We will also work hard to create and preserve greenery. The “greenery rate” of Tokyo has been decreasing over the long term. We will engage in creating greenery by planting flowers that are familiar to Tokyo residents, securing greenery in metropolitan parks, and other measures to ensure that the various features of urban greenery, including mitigation of the heat island effect and creation of pleasant scenery, will be passed on to the next generation. We must preserve our farmlands and forests while revitalizing Tokyo’s agriculture, forestry and fishery industry through such initiatives as supporting the production of Edo Tokyo Vegetables (vegetables that have been traditionally cultivated in Tokyo), utilizing wood harvested in the Tama area, and securing more human resources for the industry. Also, the TMG will protect water sources by purchasing privately-owned forests in the upstream area of the Tama River and recruiting volunteers for forest maintenance. We will build momentum throughout Tokyo to protect our precious greenery.

<Reducing food loss and waste, and plastic shopping bags>

We will reawaken the spirit of “mottainai (too precious to waste),” a traditional Japanese virtue, and instill the concept of sustainability into the lifestyles of our citizens. The annual amount of food loss and waste in Japan is almost equivalent to the amount of food eaten by the 13 million Tokyo citizens in a year. By widely publicizing such situations at opportunities such as when we hand out TMG emergency food items nearing the end of their recommended consumption, we will encourage more and more consumers to share our sentiment that it is “mottainai” to throw away food that can be eaten. And through dialogue with relevant companies as well, we will help build a new business model of processing and distribution that does not assume that some portion of the food will be wasted.

We also have to learn from practices in other parts of the world. People carrying plastic shopping bags on their way home are still a common sight in Japan. But in France, for retailers to give out disposable plastic bags at checkouts is already banned. The TMG will also encourage both retailers and consumers to reduce the use of plastic bags. As a start, we aim to have stores put an end to free distribution.