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[ISHES Newsletter #6]Shiwa Town Ogal Project: Local Redevelopment through Public-Private Collaboration

2019/01/25 17:21:51

ISHES Newsletter #6
January 25, 2019

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Copyright (c) 2019

Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society, Japan


Dear Readers,

We are happy to release our sixth issue of the ISHES Newsletter!
We hope you enjoy reading our articles from Japan related to happiness, economy and society.

In this January 2019 issue, you will find the following articles:

- Shiwa Town Ogal Project: Local Redevelopment through Public-Private Collaboration

Shiwa is a town of just over 30,000 people in northern Japan. It purchased a plot of land from the prefectural government but left most of it dormant for nearly ten years. But then, what kind of magic was used to transform this land into a dynamic complex that now attracts nearly a million visits annually? (Read more)

- New articles from the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom

This time we provide a summary of the introduction to a new book by Yoshifumi Taguchi and Junko Edahiro, entitled "The Power of Eastern Thought to Build Your Foundation of Strength." (Read more)

- Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on sustainability issues in Japan

Following last month's coverage on the theme of how the world's fishing industries can become more sustainable, this time we continue looking at the efforts of local fisheries cooperatives that succeeded in increasing their revenues without boosting their catches. (Read more)


Shiwa Town Ogal Project: Local Redevelopment through Public-Private Collaboration


Shiwa Town is located in Iwate Prefecture in the northeastern part of Japan's Tohoku region. It lies between Morioka City with a population of about 300,000 and Hanamaki City with 100,000. In front of Shiwa Chuo Station at the center of town is the new Ogal Plaza, a public and private complex with a library and community center as core facilities. Other tenants include a child care support center, farmers' market, cafe, Japanese-style pub, clinics, and private tutoring school. The area also boasts a football (soccer) center and other facilities. Despite having a population just over 30,000, Shiwa attracts nearly a million visits annually thanks to its multiple attractions. (The name "Ogal" is coined from the local dialect "ogaru" (growth) and French "gare" (station).)

In 1998, Shiwa purchased 10.7 hectares in front of Shiwa Chuo Station from the prefectural housing corporation and built a multipurpose gymnasium there. Most of the land remained unused for almost 10 years, but one day it magically took center stage with the Ogal Project, an urban renewal project that started in 2007. The project's success was not magic but the cumulative effect of collaboration between the public and private sector.

In this month's newsletter, we introduce the public-private collaboration that transformed this town of 30,000.

The Path to Collaboration

In 2003, Shiwa established a mayor's advisory committee of companies, citizens and government personnel to provide advice for excellence in managing town development. In 2005, a man named Masanobu Okazaki joined the committee, and his wealth of administrative experience in urban redevelopment projects around the country became a driving force in promoting public-private collaboration.

Okazaki was aware of the limitations of government-led town planning. He felt that city center revitalization and rezoning could be effective for urban renewal when the population is increasing, but not so much when it is declining.

Projections for 2010 to 2040 showed Shiwa's total population decreasing by about 7,000 persons and the ratio of seniors (aged 65 or older) increasing from 24% to 35%. The public will need various municipal services for an aging population, but the municipal government will face fiscal challenges due to the expected decrease in tax revenues caused by population decline. Therefore, based on a concept of collaboration that the town was promoting since 2005, Okazaki proposed a collaboration scheme that encourages private companies, citizen groups and residents to actively get involved in town planning.

However, Okazaki himself did not have any specific idea what to do for the collaboration. After he started to study public-private partnerships at Toyo University Graduate School in September 2006, he held a study meeting in February 2007, inviting the mayor and senior staff from the town hall. They discussed the feasibility of this collaboration in Shiwa with his seminar colleagues at the university.

In March 2007, the mayor announced at a town council meeting that 2007 would be the first year of town development through public-private collaboration. The town signed a public-private partnership agreement with Toyo University in April, and held hearings with 60 town residents to identify needs in May. A project outline was carefully prepared, and the mayor launched the Ogal Project in August based on cooperation between public and private sectors.

To implement the project, Shiwa established the Public-Private Partnership Affairs Office at the town hall in January 2008. To increase awareness and encourage the private sector to participate, the office surveyed town residents and companies. Project information was shared publicly through a newly created website and blog.

To promote citizen engagement and participation, the town held more than 100 workshops to exchange views among the mayor, senior town staff and residents. The workshops were considered successful by (1) listening to the opinions of residents, (2) summarizing input and confirming the summarized content, (3) presenting an image of the project's goals, and (4) explaining the master plan of public-private partnership.

Shiwa Public-Private Partnership Master Plan

After going through the process, Shiwa established the Shiwa Public-Private Partnership Master Plan in February 2009. The goal was to develop the local economy by utilizing town-owned land (public assets) and minimizing the fiscal burden while developing public facilities and encouraging private development aligned with the master plan. It would mean that the town could develop its economy by building the town hall and a library based on the partnership approach while utilizing town-owned land.

The plan's basic concept was "to create spaces where people can enjoy both urban and rural lifestyles, and to express urban planning in ways that consider both the environment and the landscape." The central part of the town should provide a good environment where people will want to live and people will want to work, and be able to attract people who understand the concept of Shiwa and want visit and enjoy the town.

The approach toward development was to seek sustained growth by having the dynamism of the town center spread to the rest of the town by emphasizing inner-outer connectedness. The plan listed three major points with two goals each:

1) Coexistence of agricultural (rural) and urban (town) life

- Urban design where people can encounter agricultural produce and the appeal of farm life

- Urban design with a concentration of accessible urban functions where people can come together

2) Opportunities and security for everyone, young and old

- Urban design that attracts people to settle and live here

- A complete environment with diversity of employment, where young people can learn, work and be challenged

3) Friendly to both people and the Earth

- Urban design that is truly environmentally consciousness

- Urban design that is good for everyone

Results of the Ogal Project

To move from master plan to implementation, the town invested funds to establish the urban development company Ogal Shiwa Co. in June 2009. On behalf of the municipal government it would plan, develop and manage the project. In collaboration with the town's Public-Private Partnership Affairs Office, the company was able facilitate speedy decision making and implement the plan with the benefit of advice from experienced town staff, highlighting the benefits of public-private collaboration.

Various guidelines were established for designing public spaces in the Ogal Project. Urban development stayed in line with the master plan, by having the private sector implement private sector (and citizen) ideas with public (government) support. Regarding financial arrangements to build facilities, the town invited professional investors as advisers and introduced a method of securitization subject to careful scrutiny for the viability of business plans. The town was able to build a new library at lower cost than libraries of a similar size in other municipalities.

The central pillar of the project was having a library that can support profitable business. This was a strategy that recognized that, faced with a declining population, urban area revitalization will not succeed if the main focus is commerce or retail. The key is to create spaces where people will always gather, regardless of population increase or decrease. This is the reason the town chose not to focus on consumption as the purpose of its public spaces.

The Ogal Shiwa website presents the library as a place that supports people's desire "to know," "to learn," and "to play." The library holds many events including a variety of rotating and locally-themed exhibits, and a "Night Library." It also puts a focus on support for industry. At the "Night Library," guest speakers and participants can discuss various topics. The library is not just a place where people can check out books and receive information, but can also exchange information.

Centering on the library, other facilities were built, including a sports facility, a child care support center, and the town office. The space is attractive for people whose aim is not simply to consume something, so it plays a universal role in attracting people. In addition, a farmers' market, a cafe, a Japanese-style pub, and other facilities were built here. The annual revenues from the farmers' market were already around 400 million yen (about US$3.6 million)* in the second year of operations. The Ogal Project could be considered a huge success, having created 250 jobs and produced a million annual visits.

With this name "Ogal" (growth + station), the town is articulating its determination to make the Shiwa Chuo Station the starting place for creating the future and keep Shiwa growing from here. We will keep our eyes on this experiment in public-private collaboration as time goes by.

*1 USD = 110JPY

Ogal Project website


New articles from the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom


In this section we introduce the latest articles posted on the website of the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom.

This time we provide a summary of the introduction to a new book by Yoshifumi Taguchi and Junko Edahiro, entitled "The Power of Eastern Thought to Build Your Foundation of Strength." Much has been written about the messages of Eastern thought on strategy and leadership for managers and leaders, but this book is written for a broader audience of young people, parents with children, company employees, housewives, seniors and more. We hope you enjoy reading about this.

"The Power of Eastern Thought to Build Your Foundation of Strength"


Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on sustainability issues in Japan


In this regular section in each issue of the ISHES Newsletter, we recommend past articles from Japan for Sustainability newsletters. The non-profit JFS was active from August 2002 until July 2018, sending out information to the world with the aim of moving society in Japan and the world toward being more sustainable and happy.

This month we continue on our theme from last month about the globally-important topic of how the fishing industry can be more sustainable. Suruga Bay is renowned in Japan for its sakura shrimp (spotted shrimp) fishery. Three local cooperatives in the towns of Yui, Kambara, and Oigawa established limits on their harvest based on the size of the marine resources. To ensure the fishery remains sustainable, these limits prevent a continual increase in harvests, but even with the limits, fishermen have been able increase their revenues. How have they accomplished this?

Increase Revenues without Increasing Catches
-- How the Sustainable Sakura Shrimp Fishery in Suruga Bay Does It


We hope you enjoyed reading our newsletter. Thank you for your kind interest and support.

"Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society

*The Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES) is an organization based in Japan that is working to build a happy and sustainable society. To this end, we need to think about happiness, economy and society together by learning from, analyzing, and thinking about theories and cases in Japan and around the world regarding what happiness is and what kind of economy and society will create and support happiness.


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