Special article ~ Amagasaki City Hall~
This time, we conducted a surprise interview with Mr. Keizo Fukushima, staff member of the Ministry of the Environment who has been temporarily sent to the Amagasaki City Hall office in Hyogo and is working on projects such as how to match environment and business in municipal government settings.
I have been temporarily sent from the Ministry of the Environment to this Amagasaki City Hall office since July.
In the Ministry of the Environment, I have been mainly involved in domestic countermeasures as well as international negotiations concerning global warming. When I first started to work on global warming countermeasures, the Kyoto Protocol had not yet come into effect and we were still engaged in international negotiations towards putting the Kyoto Protocol into effect, as well as trying to figure out how to realize the promise of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 6% in Japan.
I was also dispatched to the Cabinet Secretariat a couple of times, and when carrying out structural reform with the Koizumi government, I had fought against each of the related ministries suggesting that they take more deregulatory measures. I think on the whole the creation of special deregulation zones made a considerable breakthrough in the existing regulations and was quite successful. I also tried very hard to find the solution to achieving the 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions when working with the Hatoyama government.
As extra activities outside my regular work, I have been involved in “YEN: An environment-related study meeting for cross-industrial exchange”, “Project K : A nonprofit organization made by young national public servant to create a new Kasumigaseki”, “Public-Private Collaboration Network, Crossover 21” etc., in order to create a network beyond my regular work.
Ⅱ Difference between nation and municipality
Even though we have experienced a change of government, I have felt it very difficult to make any immediate or large scale impacts on the national government especially in my past few years’ experiences.
On the other hand, municipalities have already started to experience the influences, either in the financial problems or in the issues of a declining birthrate and aging population. They have already started to review the quality and quantity of their administration services and they are forced to lower the current administration level if circumstances require. I think the municipal governments have been very strongly feeling a sense of crisis and in completely different ways from the national government. The same thing can be said for the city of Amagasaki, whose financial status is so bad that it is almost impossible for the city to carry out any measures which require new or large scale financial investment. Under these circumstances, the city officials are racking their brains in trying to provide satisfactory services to their citizens. In the municipalities, however, certain cross-sectional matters throughout the office like some administrative reforms mentioned above, can be dealt with promptly with a top-down approach by someone like a mayor. As for the national government, I found from my experience of my working in the Cabinet Secretariat, that some matters will not move forward even with top-down action from the Prime Minister. I think this is due to the size difference of organizations to some extent, but is also greatly due to the difference of each worker’s consciousness between municipal and national governments.
Ⅲ Merging environment and business aspects
Amagasaki City is acting on their declaration to become an “ECO City of the Future” together with the business organizations in Amagasaki City, such as the Amagasaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Amagasaki Employers’ Association, the industrial circles, the Amagasaki Shinkin Bank etc. This is an approach for the city and the business organizations to work together to find the possibilities of creating new businesses, projects or products making full use of the strong industrial background in manufacturing which Amagasaki City traditionally possesses, as well as focusing on the theme of environment.
In connection with the “ECO City of the Future” concept, the city mayor has proposed the promotion of the “Amagasaki-version Green New Deal” as one of the most important measures in his administrative policies. In Amagasaki, there are a wide range of excellent companies of various sizes from large scale to small-to-medium scale. We are in the middle of discussions on how to revitalize new areas based on the environmental concept by matching up the strong points and needs of each company. There are companies inside as well as outside Amagasaki City which are seeking key persons or business needs & seeds. We would be delighted if we could make any tie-ups or collaboration relationships with the Environmental Business Research Institute or any other organization in the near future.