【Shibuya Ward】An Interview of the Leader of a Municipality Aiming at Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Mr.ken Hasebe, Mayor, Shibuya Ward
Please tell us your thoughts and intent in formulating Shibuya Ward’s Basic Concept. Also, please discuss your efforts in regards to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Basic Concept, like the Ward’s first such statement (in 1996), includes seven categories, which are listed as the letters A-G. A: comprised of child-rearing, education, and lifelong learning; B: welfare; C: health & sports; D: disaster prevention, safety, the environment and energy; E: space and community design; F: culture and entertainment; and G: Industry Promotion. If those categories are all actualized, then the city has been designed to be able to be, “a city which turns differences into strength. Shibuya Ward”. We anticipate that more people, especially children, will read the statement in picture book form, and that that will foster a sense of city pride. Since all ward policies are under the umbrella of the Basic Concept, if someone has a proposal related to it, then the guidelines should make it easier for the people who field suggestions.
Regarding the SDGs, I feel that it is very good that shared goals are created as ideals, and I’m interested in them. I agree with all the goals, but personally I want to focus on Shibuya’s unique aspects, so instead of adhering to the SDGs as they are, I think the above-mentioned Basic Concept is what I broke down (deduced) Shibuya’s ‘personality’ to be. The SDGs are connected with the ideas of diversity and inclusion; the aforementioned ‘turning differences into strength’ refers to our mutual acceptance that we differ in terms of gender, nationality, age, and hometown, and through that acceptance, we become able to harmonize with one another. When there is something that cannot be harmonized, no matter what, then I believe we need to ask ourselves how we can learn to be tolerant of the differences, value receptiveness, and strive to understand ‘the Other’. I feel that at that point we have to talk about “diversity”.
Please tell us about the circumstances behind the Basic Environment Plan of Shibuya Ward being formulated in April this year (2018), and your approach to environmental activities.
Once the Basic Concept was established, we started to formulate a new Basic Environment Plan. I think it’s the same as for the SDGs – it’s important to let everyone know about this. The Plan also exhibits the sense that it is people who will be executing it, so the slogan used for it was, ”I move. Shibuya changes.” The image displayed is one that continuously loops and actively turns. The message on it states, “Creating a sustainable mechanism when action changes society, then the social changes themselves give birth to further transformations in consciousness, and new actions”.
Shibuya is not a place with ocean or mountains, so I think that we must pursue “living in the city center”. Things that are hard to do in other locales – for instance, starting a vegetable garden on a rooftop, building a neighborhood community, etc., help create virtuous circles. So how are we to build stronger communities in an area? In the past, town councils and merchants’ associations were main locations used to solidify neighborhood communities, but now there are various other venues available, such as PTAs, civic committees and online communities using SNS. There are many issues which can be dealt with in neighborhood communities – such as having one’s children taken care of for an hour at a neighbor’s house when preparing supper.
In 2017, we started a project called “O-tonari (Neighbors) Sunday”, where on the first Sunday of June we give permits for people to use Shibuya’s parks for parties, barbecues, etc., as a day to interact with neighbors. While conscious of the SDGs and our Basic Environment Plan, we wish to help remind people of their ultimate connections to their neighbors, and want residents to enjoy state-of-the-art ‘country life’, if only for one day a year. City residents enjoy many conveniences, but helping them re-connect to one another is beneficial in many respects, including in the environmental realm. I feel these kinds of interactions are quite important in district administration, and particularly important for regional governments.
Please tell us how your office is proceeding with cooperation between citizens and the corporate sector in the form of citizen collaborative ventures operating in Shibuya Ward.
About half of the population of Shibuya Ward lives in the ward’s northern communities, including Hatagaya, Hatsudai, Sasazuka and Honmachi. Regarding the problems faced by these areas, and welfare issues, in conjunction with NPOs and NGOs, we’ve starting talking about support systems, etc., tied in on a social experimental basis. Also, as a citizen collaborative project, we are garnering opinions in workshop-format gatherings named “SasaHataHatsu”.(in Japanese) Next, regarding the utilization of a certain straight, one-lane road called a waterworks road, I/we would like to make it a vehicle-free road (a ‘pedestrian heaven’) and try to set up an ekiden (marathon relay race) along its route. Furthermore, I’d like to divide it into blocks, such that people could play catch in each block. I wonder if we can’t achieve something which normally would be impossible on the road. Regarding another matter, as a measure to help rejuvenate shopping areas, we’d like to collaborate with NPOs in currently vacant locations; ideas have been put forth such as wanting us to make deliveries in collaboration with shopping districts using the latest mobility technology.
In Shibuya it is worthwhile to try new things and actively challenge oneself. We don’t want to be calling out to people to come gather around, and then trying to get them to do something. Instead, it’d be better to guide people in a certain direction, in a manner which increases the likelihood that they’ll like going that way. We would like to help create an environment where people who want to do things can.
On the corporate side, we are moving forward the development of specific initiatives by working with companies through the concluding of agreements. For example, ideas ranging from a company which told us about wishing to convert pedestrian paths into tea fields, or another wanting to provide coffee free of charge on “O-tonari (Neighbors) Sunday” in June, etc., to a discussion about investing in new cultures that support welfare and education to solve regional problems – we plan to collaborate with any companies which have a love for Shibuya. Through such means, I would like to illustrate that SDGs “do not leave anyone behind”, as we are a case only possible thanks to this urban area, involving people who love Shibuya, residents, companies, NPOs, and all other stakeholders.
Please talk a little about the issues you would like to address, and initiatives you’d like to carry out, in Shibuya Ward.
In the case of this past Halloween, it is not well known that volunteers gathered at 5:00 AM the next morning, with everyday Shibuya having been regained by around 8 o’clock, and then by noon, the city had become the cleanest it was in a year! To me, the power of the people who love Shibuya is truly amazing.
I think that as a responsibility of living in the city center that is Shibuya, we have to work on garbage issues in the future. Because Shibuya Ward is an area with regular large inflows of tourists and others, I am thinking that instead of us making rules, we could foster an atmosphere where it is difficult to throw away trash. Also, as there are many businesses, there is a lot of garbage generated by them, so we are thinking about restraining the generation of waste such as food waste in restaurants, as well as recycling, and considering other means, such as fundraising, for dealing with the issue. Going forward, one of our future tasks will be to think about what kinds of mechanisms can be sustainable.
[Date of Interview: November 21, 2018]