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Japan ‘smart’ cities rely on public-private partnerships

With funding from the government and innovation savvy from the private sector, Yokohama, Japan has energy efficient homes, smart buildings, and more electric vehicles plying its busy roads, all embraced in its bid to become a Smart Nation.

Municipal governments in Japan rely on the private sector’s business savvy and technology expertise to fill knowledge gaps for “smart” city initiatives. Priyankar Bhunia reports for OpenGov that four such projects funded by the Japanese government featured private-sector collaboration.

OpenGov discussed Japan’s approach to smart cities with Dr. Masaru Yarime, professor of science, technology and innovation governance at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Public Policy. For each of the projects, consortiums were created to match local governments with companies. The emphasis is on retrofitting existing infrastructure rather than building new cities.

Yokohama introduced electric vehicles and renewable energy over a large swath of the city, the article says. Four thousand residences were equipped with home energy-management systems that help owners conserve and lower costs. The same system was added to 700 homes in Keihanna.

In Toyota’s company town, 67 homes were equipped with solar panels, fuel cells and storage batteries. Kitakyushu introduced “dynamic” energy pricing to 180 households. Rates fluctuate, becoming lower during off-peak hours, such as nights and weekends. 

This story was published with permission from Citiscope, a nonprofit news outlet that covers innovations in cities around the world. More at

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