Tokyo's FY2022 Budget Proposal Packed with Dreams for the Future

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG)'s general accounting budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 is the largest ever. Their focus is on measures that will have a tangible impact on achieving a sustainable recovery and that will lead to an inclusive society in which no one is left behind, with some measures that are new and unique. From flying cars to app development for the elderly, the proposal is jam-packed with hopes and dreams for a bright future.

Largest Budget Proposal in History

The budget proposal is a one-year plan for how much taxpayer money will be allocated to which government services, representing a summary of revenue and expenditures. It has been announced that TMG's total budget for FY2022 will total 15.4 trillion yen (about 134 billion dollars).

Of this, the "general accounting budget," which acts as the purse used to pay for various administrative services related to the lives of the city's residents such as welfare and disaster prevention measures, is the largest ever at a total of 7.801 trillion yen (about 68 billion dollars). This amount will allow for as many as 568 new projects to be established. The keywords here are "sustainable recovery" and "inclusive society," and some unique measures aimed at achieving these goals are drawing attention.

A Sustainable Recovery with Tangible Impacts

TMG is working to implement a "sustainable recovery" to achieve a sustainable way of living across various aspects of society, including the environment and the economy. In August 2021, Governor Koike Yuriko held the Sustainable Recovery Tokyo Forum (Re StaRT), where she exchanged views with mayors of cities such as Los Angeles and Paris. The forum resulted in the mayors adopting a Joint Declaration on Sustainable Recovery.

In order to take the lead in achieving such a sustainable recovery globally, the FY2022 budget proposal is full of projects with diverse and bold ideas.

The first of focus is the Tokyo Bay eSG Project, an urban vision for the future of the Bay Area 50 to 100 years ahead, including the Tokyo Waterfront City and Central Breakwater areas. A huge parcel of newly reclaimed land measuring roughly 1,000 hectares will be used to its fullest potential moving forward by opening up a vast area for the implementation of the latest technologies by green tech companies and others. The site is expected to be used to roll out a large-scale implementation of Japanese digital technologies, such as drones and flying cars.

Furthermore, by building a next-generation urban model based on the concept of a sustainable recovery, TMG will convey an image of the cities of the future that the world should aim for. In FY2022, they plan to proceed with the recruitment and selection of project developers in order to build a system of cooperation with businesses and realize their vision for the future.

In addition, the gas pedal is at full throttle for achieving a "Zero Emission Tokyo," which TMG has been working toward for some time. Starting in FY2022, subsidies will be expanded to help reduce hydrogen prices for fuel cell buses registered in Tokyo in order to enhance hydrogen-based mobility and advance the decarbonization of automobiles. They also aim to promote further installation of small hydrogen stations in compact spaces by subsidizing their construction costs.

As the world transforms at a rapid pace to achieve the SDGs, TMG has not only set forth the ideal of a sustainable recovery, but is also rolling out highly feasible projects and measures from the perspectives of urban development, energy, and more. The proposed budget demonstrates that the government is willing to try unprecedented initiatives as they utilize rapidly evolving technologies to improve the environment, economy, and society.

An Inclusive Society Where No One Is Left Behind

Another feature that stands out in the FY2022 budget proposal is the abundance of measures to achieve an inclusive, barrier-free society. These not only eliminate physical steps, but also remove psychological barriers across society and set out comprehensive initiatives to create a society in which everyone can thrive.

The requirements that are needed in order to create a future for Tokyo in which all people can thrive are categorized into three "Cs": Children (putting children first); Chōju (becoming a society with world-class longevity); and Community (maintaining connections and supporting one another). A diverse range of measures have been prepared in connection with each.

What is striking about these new projects is that they actively promote the use of technology.

For example, a budget has been allocated to the Project for the Use of Smartwatches and Other Digital Devices Contributing to Promoting Health Among the Elderly for app development to encourage behavioral changes and promote health among the elderly. In collaboration with a specialist organization, the project team plans to develop an app that can measure blood pressure, pulse, and other metrics to assess the health of the elderly and detect signs of illness using smart watches. They will begin collecting and analyzing data in FY2022 ahead of the app's launch in FY2024.

To achieve a society in which everyone can work with enthusiasm, there are also a variety of projects aiming to provide more generous support for training digital talent. New projects are being planned such as the DX Human Resources Reskilling Support Project, which will impart digital skills to trainees such as how to develop simple business applications, as well as matching events specific to digital industries. While it is often pointed out that Japanese society has been lagging behind in the digital shift, TMG is ready to push for work reforms in response to changes in the societal structure from the perspective of human resources.

Moreover, to assist with accurate casework records at child guidance offices, an "AI Voice Mining System" that transcribes audio data from telephone calls will be introduced to improve efficiency and reduce staff workloads.

The Hidden Resolution Behind the Proposal

A focus not only on advancing digital technologies but also on building connections between people can be seen in the budget proposal.

The "Tokyo Mother and Father Support Project" has been expanded to provide seamless support from pregnancy through to childbirth and childcare, with parental networking events and other initiatives included. In addition, a consultation system has been established and domestic helpers have been dispatched as a means of supporting young caregivers. With regard to bullying, experts will help investigate and analyze the present state of the issue so that proper support measures can be put in place.

Looking at the proposed budget for FY2022, you can sense TMG's strong will to lead the way in creating a sustainable society and their intent to spread the benefits of technological advancement to every corner of the country. As the speed of social change is expected to pick up more and more, TMG will use the budget entrusted to it by its citizens to open up a clear path to the future through measures with tangible impacts.

* In this article, the conversion is based on 1 U.S. dollar = 115 Japanese yen.

Writing by Sueyoshi Yoko / Translation by Amitt