Toyama City lies along the coast of the Sea of Japan. Its city area encompasses a diverse range of geographies, from its coastal beaches to the Tateyama mountain range with peaks 3,000 meters above.
Toyama has been a prefectural capital since the Meiji era. While the city center experienced catastrophic damage during WWII air strikes in 1945, improvements in urban infrastructure and progress in the industrial economy have helped Toyama develop into a leading industrial and commercial city.
The City’s main industry is manufacturing, including pharmaceutical products, industrial machinery, and precision electronic parts. Its pharmaceutical industry leads the nation in terms of its production output.
Toyama is promoting the development of a compact city with a strong public transportation system by concentrating housing and city functions, including commercial, medical, welfare, and cultural facilities, along public transit lines. The City aims to create an environment in which important municipal functions are within walking distance of one another.
Toyama has implemented a number of measures and policies to achieve its goal of a compact city, and they have resulted in considerable success. Toyama was the first city in Japan to develop a full-scale light rail transit (LRT) system. The City has continued to develop its LRT in addition to other modes of public transportation. It also has worked to revitalize its city center and actively promote the development of housing along public transportation lines. Its work in public transportation development and compact city planning have garnered recognition and praise from national projects such as the Japanese government’s Future City initiative and from international organizations such as the OECD.
Toyama believes compact city policies which concentrate urban functions such as housing and commercial or cultural facilities along transportation lines present the best way for them to address the challenge of managing a sustainable city in the face of population aging and decline. It was recognized as a leading city in the area of compact city policies by the OECD in 2012, and it has been actively collaborating with the OECD and participating in international conferences regarding these issues.
Toyama’s compact city development plan consists of three core policies:
- Revitalization of public transportation: Toyama plans to expand its LRT network and encourage modal shift through continued improvement of its bus and train systems to create a more walkable city.
- Promotion of housing near public transportation lines: Toyama is promoting housing development in the city center as well as along public transportation lines in tandem with the revitalization of public transportation. Toyama is guiding housing to the city core and the “public transportation line housing promotion area” by providing financial assistance to developers and homebuyers.
- Revitalization of the city center: Toyama is developing a Central City Area Revitalization Plan to effectively concentrate public transportation and city functions in the City center. The City is currently executing projects related to facility management (measures regarding public facilities and city functions), repurposing vacant buildings as medical and care facilities, revitalization through the creation of new local specialty products, and supporting its elderly citizens.
Through the EU-Japan Dialogue, Toyama hopes to learn from other cities’ initiatives while promoting the City’s measures in order to improve its urban policies and model of sustainable city management.