Friday, January 28, 2011

Eco-Model Cities for a Low-Carbon Society

A project of The Regional Revitalization Bureau, Cabinet Secretariat, Japan


A program established by the Japanese government to create and promote a Low-Carbon Society on a city level, domestically and worldwide. 6 cities were originally selected in 2008, and 7 more cities were selected in 2009. All of the cities prominently feature activities and future plans to achieve drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.


Click on the individual city to view profile.

A Low-Carbon Society in Harmony with the Forest
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
3,800644 km232% (2030)66% (2050)1990

Shimokawa is a small town located in the Kamikawa District of Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. The primary industries are farming and – as 90% of the town is forest – lumber. The town aims to reduce greenhouse emissions through a combination of local resource utilization and low-carbon housing projects, aided by the active involvement of its citizens.
For more detailed information about Shimokawa’s efforts, please click here(PDF, 807 KB)

A Rural Environmental Model City
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
170,000619 km230% (2030)50% (2050)2000

Obihiro is a city in the Tokachi Region of Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. The city economy is based primarily around the agricultural sector, which is organized around large-scale farming operations centered on upland and dairy farming. As such, the city plans to become a rural Eco-Model City revolving around agriculture.
For more detailed information about Obihiro’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 688 KB)

A City Wide Zero-Carbon Lifestyle
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
3.67M434 km2Over 30%/person (2025)Over 60%/person (2050)2004

Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area. One of Japan’s major port cities, it has a population of 3.67 million - making it Japan’s largest incorporated city. Yokohama participates in environmental programs on a national and local level, and aims to achieve a city-wide zero-carbon lifestyle by sharing knowledge, increasing renewable energy use, and utilizing the strength of its residents.
For more detailed information about Yokohama’s efforts, please click here(PDF, 713 KB)

A Compact City Strategy for Low CO2 Emissions
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
420,0001,242 km230% (2030)50% (2050)2005

Toyama is the capital city of Toyama prefecture, located on the coast of the Sea of Japan in the middle region of Honshu, the main island of Japan. The citizens of Toyama are extremely dependent on their cars – the per household gasoline consumption is second highest in Japan – but with an expansion of the public transportation focusing on light rail transit, Toyama plans to create a compact city built around a public transportation hub.
For more detailed information about Toyama’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 609 KB)

A Green Frontier City
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
0.99M488 km230% (2030)City: 50-60% (2050), Asian Region: equivalent to 150% of Kitakyushu’s mission2005

Kitakyushu is a city located in the northern part of Kyushu, Japan. Kitakyushu is part of one of Japan’s four largest industrial zones, and with its key steel, chemical, and other industries, played an important role in the modernization of Japan in the 20th century. As a result of the combined efforts of citizens, businesses, research institutions and government, the city has reinvented itself as a center of the environmental and recycling industries.
For more detailed information about Kitakyushu’s efforts, please click here(PDF, 714 KB)

A Sustainable Small-Scale Municipality
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
29,000163 km233% (2020)50% (2050)2005

Minamata is a small city in Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyushu, the southern island of Japan. The city was famously the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in Japanese history, caused by the pollution of the bay with mercury from industrial dumping. However, the city has since turned a corner and used its experience to reinvent itself as a center for innovation in waste-management and recycling.
For more detailed information about Minamata’s efforts, please click here(PDF, 803 KB)

Building an Energy-Conserving City and Improving Energy Efficiency
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
45,00012 km225% (2020)50% (2050)1990

As the home of the Diet, the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s residence, the Imperial Palace, many foreign embassies, and the headquarters of several companies, Chiyoda City is in many ways the political and economic center of Japan. Though actual residents number only 45,000, the daytime population is 850,000. The city has ambitious goals for combating global warming, including plans to reduce CO2 emissions within the city 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2050 from 1990 levels.
For more detailed information about Chiyoda’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 828 KB)

Building a Low-Carbon City Using Renewable Energy through Citizen Participation
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
107,000659 km240-50%/residential sector (2030)70% (2050)2005

Iida City is surrounded by Alpine wilderness areas parallel to the Tenryu River. The former castle town has long been the cultural, economic and administrative center of the southern Nagano Prefecture. The city has focused its efforts on the efficient and effective use of natural energy, including centralized heat supply systems for whole city blocks and solar power installation. Iida City is also assisting the installation of solar power charging infrastructure, as well as introducing ride-share taxis in areas inaccessible to public transport.
For more detailed information about Iida’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 618 KB)

Urban Development and an Eco-Friendly Car Society Through Cutting-Edge Environmental Technology
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
420,000918 km230-50% (2030)50-70% (2050)1990

Toyota is a city of industry, most famously as the home of Toyota Motors, the world’s leading automaker. Still, 70% of the city area is covered by forest. An “Eco-Car Life” is promoted through a plug-in hybrid car-sharing system, the development of solar power-based charging infrastructure, and educational programs to teach residents how to drive more efficiently and improve their gas mileage. Cutting-edge environmental technology is utilized for demonstrative research projects and incorporated in systems such as the Intelligent Transportation Systems used to reduce traffic congestion and prioritize public transit.
For more detailed information about Toyota’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 699 KB)

A Pedestrian-Centered City Using Community Power to Create a Low-Carbon Society
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
1.47M828 km240% (2030)60% (2050)1990

Kyoto has a history dating back more than 1200 years and is famous for its natural beauty, with three-fourths of the area covered by forest. The city also boasts many temples, shrines, and gardens, and is visited by around 50 million tourists every year. Kyoto plans to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2050 from 1990 levels through the creation of a pedestrian-centered city, low-carbon buildings with local materials, and new models for living and working in the city.
For more detailed information about Kyoto’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 395 KB)

Advanced Environmental Industry Solar Panel Construction and Recycling Factories
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
840,000150 km215% (2030)60% (2050)2005

Sakai is a city in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. Historically, it has been one of the largest and most important seaports of Japan, playing a major role in connecting foreign trade with inland trade. The city plans to achieve reductions in emissions through a transition into low-carbon industry, the creation of sustainable public transit networks – including bicycle systems and infrastructure, and through lifestyle changes in the citizenry. In partnership with Osaka Prefecture University, Sakai established the Sakai Eco University to provide professional environmental coursework and training.
For more detailed information about Sakai’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 586 KB)

Woody Biomass Community Cycle Model Project
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
4,000237 km250% (2030)70% (2050)1990

Yusuhara is a small town covered 91% in forest and fields, located at the source of the Shimanto River with landscape underlain by limestone. Yusuhara’s environmental efforts center around the utilization of its abundant natural resources, with the goal of achieving a reproducible model for self-sufficient, eco-friendly living in mountain villages. For example, by installing small-scale hydro electric, solar and wind power stations, industries businesses and residents will realize 100% self-sufficiency in electricity.
For more detailed information about Yusuhara’s efforts, please click here (PDF, 536 KB)

Energy from Sugar Cane Produced Locally
PopulationAreaMid-Term Reduction GoalLong-Term Reduction GoalBase Year
55,000205 km230-40% (2030)70-80% (2050)2003

Part of Okinawa Prefecture, Miyakojima is a tourist destination visited by more than 400,000 people annually. Situated on an elevated coral reef and surrounded by water on all sides, the city has a low and flat topography. Sugarcane, the local natural resource, is exploited to the utmost extent in order to create a self-sufficient energy supply system.
For more detailed information about Miyakojima’s efforts, please click here(PDF, 471 KB)


In order to assess the performance of buildings in Japan, the Comprehensive Assessment System for Building Environmental Efficiency (CASSBEE) system is utilized in Japan to assess green building efficiency and standardization. Similar to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in the U.S., CASBEE is Japan’s comparable standard.
CASBEE-City utilizes the scalability of CASBEE beyond individual buildings to assess the environmental performance of whole cities. Cities are evaluated and given a score for environmental efficiency on the basis of environmental load and environmental quality.
For additional information about CASBEE, please click here (PDF, 4.50 MB).


The Promotion Council of the Low Carbon Cities (PCLCC) was established to provide a foundation for the expansion efforts at low-carbon urban development; the Council advances excellent examples of domestic development and promotes friendly competition between municipalities.
The Council collects best practices from regions all across Japan and works to help spread these both locally and to the rest of the world.
Members include the 13 Eco-Model Cities; 70 cities, towns and villages with an eye towards low-carbon regional development; some of the administrative divisions of Japan (prefectures and designated cities); and relevant government bureaus and agencies.
For additional information about the PCLCC, please click here (PDF, 5.15 MB).


In October 2009, the Promotion Council for Low Carbon Cities (PCLCC) organized the international conference in Yokohama, Japan. The conference was composed of 1,169 participants that included members of the PCLCC, in addition to environmentally-conscious cities and experts from overseas to share their experiences and best practices.
Conference participants debated and shared information based on the experiences and initiatives of Japan’s Eco-Model Cities and other international eco-cities for the purpose of building future cities worldwide with high aims for achieving low-carbon societies. Plenary session participants from overseas included: Copenhagen (Denmark), Dalian (China), Hamburg (Germany), Portland Metro Council (Oregon, USA), Stockholm (Sweden), France and EU.