United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Mr. Toshihiko Ota, Mayor of Toyota City

Mr. Toshihiko OTA
Mayor of Toyota City

High-level Symposium on Sustainable Cities:
Connecting People, Environment and Technology
Co-convened by the United Nations and Toyota City

Toyota City, Japan
15-16 January 2015

Good morning everyone. Many people, led by Mr. Nikhil Seth, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations, Mr. Shigeo Kitamura, State Minister of the Environment, Japan, and Mr. Senta Morioka, Vice Governor of Aichi Prefecture, have come together here in Toyota City for this symposium. I welcome you all from the bottom of my heart as the representative of the citizens of Toyota City. Thank you.

Toyota City has a population of 420,000 and an area of 918 square kilometers. Its population is the second biggest in Aichi Prefecture after Nagoya City. The area accounts for approximately 20% of Aichi Prefecture. It is the largest local government area in Aichi Prefecture.

I would like to present three features of Toyota City to you. The first, as all of you know, is that Toyota City is a car town. The headquarters of Toyota Motor Corporation and the majority of the major plants of Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan are in Toyota City. There are a large number of related small and medium-sized enterprises as well. There are also a variety of industries related to cars. This is the kind of car town that we are.

Regarding what kinds of manufacturing is practiced in this town, there is a facility called Sky Hall Toyota about a five minute drive from here, and actually yesterday and today an event called a business fair has been held in the Sky Hall Toyota.

This is a trade show for the industry featuring the exhibits of 120 companies and organizations mainly from within Toyota City but also from outside the city and even outside the prefecture. A fuel-cell bus, the latest model fuel-cell bus which is not yet commercially available, is operating as a shuttle bus from this venue so by all means please check out the business fair if you can find the time. I think you will be able to see plenty of exhibits in this business fair about what kind of car town Toyota City is.

Now I come to another point I would like to mention. There is a building just in front of us and we will hold an event tonight and tomorrow night in which we project digital images onto that building. The event will present a variety of digital images but we are also working on an initiative for some of the power supply for the event in which we project the images using the fuel-cell car called MIRAI that Toyota Motor Corporation launched at the end of last year as the power supply.

Furthermore, tonight and tomorrow night you will have opportunities to venture outside this venue so if you check out the projected images I think you will see them as an initiative that is only possible in a car town.

The first point is that Toyota is a car town, as I just mentioned. The second point is that Toyota is a town with a rich natural environment. Even though there is this much industrial activity in Toyota City, you can catch ayu (sweetfish) in the river flowing a mere ten minutes’ walk from this venue. Of course you can eat the fish. In the season many anglers go to that river, catch the ayu and take them home.

Also about six kilometers from here there are wetlands registered under the Ramsar Convention. They are small in scale but are wetlands registered under the Ramsar Convention in which rare species of plants grow in clusters. Due to the season no flowers are blooming now so there is not much to see but by all means please go to see the wetlands when the flowers are looking their best.

In addition, 70% of Toyota City is forest. Therefore if you drive from here for just 20 or 30 minutes you will be able to see mountains and mountain scenery all the way. Toyota is a town with that kind of rich natural environment.

The third characteristic is history and culture. There is a place approximately 10 kilometers from this venue called Matsudaira, Toyota City. It is called Matsudairacho, Toyota City. For about 260 years after 1603, there was an era in which there was a continuous succession of stable political administrations in the history of Japan. This is called the Edo period or the Tokugawa period. The Tokugawa clan that continued those stable administrations over those 265 years built up the Edo period over 15 generations.

Actually the earliest ancestor of the Tokugawa clan was from Matsudairacho in Toyota City. Toyota City is also blessed with this kind of history and tradition. The theme of the High-Level Symposium on Sustainable Cities to be held today and tomorrow is “Connecting People, Environment and Technology.”

I believe that the initiatives of Toyota City, initiatives utilizing our nature as a car town, are truly initiatives for Connecting People, Environment and Technology.

On the other hand, the initiatives utilizing our rich nature, history and culture are not about technology but rather about how to harmonize people with nature and people with history and culture and how to proceed with harmonized urban development. At that time the theme becomes how to utilize the wisdom, experience, and innovative approaches of our various predecessors in the past in urban development going forward.

Initiatives for a sustainable town using cutting-edge technology that utilizes our characteristics as a car town, and initiatives for a sustainable town utilizing our nature, history and culture: I do not think that these two kinds of initiatives are contradictory.

In Toyota City, how can we combine these kinds of initiatives and make a variety of choices possible for the citizens? Toyota City is proceeding with that kind of urban development and I believe that is the direction that will lead Toyota City to being a sustainable town.

I think that the various cities represented by the delegates gathered here today each face their own unique circumstances. However, I would like all of the cities to continue on a sustainable path. I think you all feel the same regarding that one wish. I certainly hope from the bottom of my heart that over these two days opinions will be exchanged about the circumstances faced by each of the cities, the directions each of the cities is aiming to move in, etc., and that these two days will be a highly productive opportunity for us.

I hope you will enjoy a fruitful two days at the symposium. Thank you very much for your participation in today’s meeting.