Sustainable Transformation in Tokyo | TMC Talks Vol.4

This article is a transcription of a speech given by Miyasaka Manabu, Vice Governor of Tokyo, at TMC Talks held by the Tokyo Media Center (TMC) on Aug 2.

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Today, I would like to talk about the growth strategy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

What are the 2 major crises facing the Tokyo metropolitan government? In the long term, we acknowledge that there are two different, infectious disease and the climate crisis.

If you take a look, three years from now or this year, there might be other issues as well but if you take 50 years down the road or 100 years down the road, the largest issues are those two; threat of infectious disease and climate crisis.


About the climate crisis, they say that it is close to the point of no return.

This slide(below) shows the Ministry of Environment weather forecast for Tokyo in the year 2100.

Temperature wise, Tokyo will experience the highs of 40 to 44 degrees centigrade and the typhoon maximum windspeed of 90 meters per second.


If we face such severe situation, it's not that we can actually think about the growth strategy, but we have to think about whether we can survive in that environment.

Well, it's not just Tokyo, but also the other cities around the world that would face such kind of a large challenge. But on the other hand, if we take a look at the world, we have to see that the kind of the role that cities can play must be a very big one.


In the 1950s about 30% of the world's population lived in cities, and now it's about 55%, but in the year 2050 it is projected that 70% would be living in the cities.

It is very important that we change the future of our cities.

What can the cities do including Tokyo? I think one thing is that we should overcome the climate crisis and the other thing is that we have to close the gap between the rich and the poor, and most importantly we need to balance both achieving a comfortable human-centered lifestyle and overcoming the climate crisis.


I guess we need to have the DIGITAL technology and the GREEN-centered thinking.

I will cover a little bit of what the DIGITAL and GREEN, those two keywords mean in the Tokyo environment.

Tokyo ranks relatively high compared with other cities around the world.

However, we have to recognize that our financial base for digitalization initiatives and for the green technology growth are weak.

In other words, we can say that Tokyo can be strong in this digitalization technology and also in the green technology if we have enough financial support.

Tokyo Bay eSG Project

I would like to touch upon on the "Tokyo Bay eSG Project" as the flagship project for digitalization, green, and finance.

This project has the initiative of creating the prototype of future Japan and future cities around the world, starting from Tokyo Bay, and to have the prototype for the other cities around the world to have a project that can build the future for us.


Tokyo has various areas such as mountainous areas to islands to plains, but it actually has a history of development by building many landfills on the sea.

Tokyo waterfront city is about as big as the main island of Venice, and on the ocean side, another 1,000 hectares of land is under construction as a new landfill.

There are lots of large cities in the world, but we believe that there is no example of building land on the ocean like this.

How we can put to good use the vast man-made land on the ocean by reclaiming land, that is going to be a quite important issue.


We would like to see this as a prototype for the future city looking at this project from a different perspective from the past.


Since fall of 2020, we have gotten lots of advice from many experts and we came up with this kind of concept. Many experts mentioned that we should use technologies to gain convenience and also attain biodiversity, and have those two in place; that is the really what the future city should look like.

It is not about taking nature or convenience. We do not have to choose one from the two, but we can have them both, and that should be the concept for the future city.

So we have come up with the video that shows our concept and here are our four strategies for realizing such a project.


And as it is a vast region, Tokyo would like to invite all the startup companies from all over the world and utilize their green technologies to realize such a city.

TMG will actively engage in green financing to support this.

Digital Strategy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government

From now on, I would like to focus on the digital part, instead of talking about this big project, Tokyo Bay eSG.

So TMG has embarked on a project to change this huge Tokyo area into a smart city.

So in the past we have used various technologies to make Tokyo comfortable, but now will use new digital technologies to realize this smart city.


There are three pillars. The first is to connect all areas in Tokyo with a data highway in all Tokyo areas.

And the second is the digital shift in public facilities and residential services by TMG because digital technologies are not used so much in our administrative services.

The third is to utilize more digital technologies in our style, as digital technologies are not used in our working styles.

So we had already made public these three pillars before the COVID-19 breakout, however with the COVID-19 we have to accelerate these three pillars.


So, let me elaborate on the first pillar, Tokyo Data Highway.

It is about anytime, anyone, anywhere, and in any situation. Tokyo is prone to natural disasters, so people need to be connected during natural disasters and emergencies.

Since last year, COVID-19 hit us and we are now engaged in the connection of schools.

We also need to make sure that libraries, parks, museums, and theaters can be connected to anyone, anywhere, and anytime.

And in this Tokyo Games, we were preparing to use 5G for spectators to connect to Wi-Fi.


The second pillar is to improve the quality of services by incorporating digital technologies in various government administrative services.

For example, there are various administrative services in the fields of education, healthcare, transportation, and disaster prevention.

And actually, in these administrative services digital technologies are not used very often.

Thus, if we can utilize the power of digitalization in our administrative services, we will be able to provide better services.

So in all the bureaus of TMG, we are encouraging to use digital technologies in their services.


The third pillar is to use digital technologies in the work style of our TMG employees.

When the Showa era was ending into Heisei era, TMG moved to West Shinjuku area (in 1991).

And right now, our concept is that in this era of Reiwa we should have a digital government space here in West Shinjuku.

What we want to achieve especially is that our employees do not have to come to this TMG office for work and they can work in their digital platform. We are also trying to create a virtual Tokyo Metropolitan Government so that Tokyo residents don't have to come to the city hall for submissions and applications, but can do so in a digital space.


Financial Strategy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Now that I have explained about digital, I will go into Green and finance, the Green initiative.

As a goal, we will plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This is such an ambitious project to change the largest city Tokyo into a zero-emission city by 2050 and it's going to require much financing.

That is why the power of finance is even more important.


In the world, sustainable investment is a global trend.

Global Green foundations have increased significantly in recent years.

Cities around the world are trying to create sustainable cities by changing them into this Green environment, so the cities are using all the initiatives they can have from the finance. This is why this trend is much growing.



The International Financial City, Tokyo has been the goal for many years.

This fall (2021), we are going to revise the plan that we had in our mind for a long time.

What is different about this International Financial City plan is that we have two big things in the front, environment and green.


Now I would like to sum up in my epilogue part of the lecture.

I have said that the crises confronting us, but in other words the two big opportunities are digital and green.

We would like to use the digital technology in order to transform a city into a more convenient and comfortable city.

And another thing is we must transform ourselves into a city that has the zero-emissions and by doing that we need to use the green technology and circular economy.

If we can achieve these two objectives, digital and green, I believe very firmly that we can change ourselves into sustainable ones.

We think it is truly a "moonshot" that you use the digitalization technology to change ourselves into a smart city and utilize all we can have from the green finance to transform ourselves into a zero-emission society.


I think you know the word "moonshot" coming from President Kennedy at the time when people thought that sending people to the moon is just an impossible dream and such an ambitious one but we use this phrase "moon shot" in our goal as well.

I think it is very ambitious and very difficult to change the Tokyo metropolis with 14 million population, without stopping its activities by using the digital and the green to transform our city.

That is why I think we can say it is such a "moonshot" approach.

What we see around the world, are cities having these initiatives and having these sustainable approaches after this COVID-19 pandemic.

I would think that all the cities around the world are also looking to have their own "moonshot" projects.


I would hope that we can have a sustainable recovery city after this Olympic and Paralympic games by sharing information around the globe, and to do so we can obtain green, digital and sustainable.

Miyasaka Manabu
Vice Governor, Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Miyasaka Manabu is driving various digital-related initiatives to realize the Tokyo version of Society 5.0,"Smart Tokyo," where the power of digitalization brings the best of Tokyo, so that Tokyo citizens can lead high-quality lives.

Vice Governor Miyasaka worked for Yahoo Japan Corporation for over 20 years and gained professional experience as a corporate executive, including serving as Chairperson. After leaving Yahoo Japan, he took the position of counselor at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in July 2019, and launched the "Tokyo Data Highway Basic Strategy," which aims to build the world's fastest mobile internet network. In September of the same year, He was appointed as the first vice governor from the private sector in 12 years, and since then, he has been working even more vigorously to advance projects for the city.

Vice Governor Miyasaka is also in charge of measures related to the realization of "Global Financial City: Tokyo" as a financial hub for the world and Asia. He is working on initiatives such as attracting financial companies and talent from around the world, fostering the asset management and fintech industries, and examining strategies to boost the green finance sector.

The wording in the article does not necessarily correspond to what was actually said.