Toyama’s resilience journey

Like much of Japan, Toyama has a declining, aging population. This demographic shift leads to declining tax revenues, with the result that a once-strong transportation infrastructure is becoming outdated. In turn, without access to convenient and reliable transportation, elderly residents face isolation and health problems associated with limited mobility. Officials have developed a long-term strategy aimed at revitalizing public transportation, encouraging residents and businesses to relocate along the new transportation lines, and renewing the city center to make it more pedestrian friendly.

Toyama also faces challenges due to its geographic location. Sitting in the alluvial plain between the Northern Japan Alps and the Sea of Japan, Toyama has a long history of flooding from the major rivers and tributaries that cut through the city. As climate change continues to drive heavy rainfall in the region, Toyama has begun to reinforce embankments, build sabo dams to lower silt levels, and construct underground rainwater storage facilities that can respond to severe weather events.

Meet the Chief Resilience Officer

Dr. Joseph Runzo-Inada

Chief Resilience Officer and Head of Startegic Planning

Dr. Joseph Runzo-Inada was the first American to serve as a senior policy adviser to a major Japanese city. He is an expert on global ethical issues, global human rights, cultural pluralism, and organizational leadership. Joseph conceived the “Amazing Toyama” civic pride campaign. As CRO he holds an appointment at the level of Vice Mayor, as Head of the newly created Office of Strategic Planning and Resilience, and he frequently represents the Toyama at international summits.

Educated at the University of California, Irvine, the University of Michigan, and Harvard University, Joseph is the author of 10 books, and a documentary filmmaker. He is the recipient of seven awards from the United States National Endowment for the Humanities, and was elected a Life Member of Cambridge University’s Clare Hall College.

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