2013/14 Miyagi

Activities and Events

Japan Study Tour

2013 – Miyagi

Reconstruction, Regeneration, Resilience:  Miyagi Prefecture three years after 3/11

November 17 to 23, 2013

Japan Local Government Centre’s 2013 Japan Study Tour to Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture was in Japan’s northeast Tōhoku region, hit by the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  The group visited JLGC’s parent office, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) headquarters in Tokyo to get a general outline of the role and structure of Japan’s local government.  The main part of the tour was hosted by Miyagi Prefectural Government, with its headquarters in the major regional city of Sendai, and looked at the rebuilding and recovery process in the aftermath of the events in 2011.

The current population of the prefecture (as of December 1, 2012) totals 2,326,957, ranking 15th within Japan.  Sendai has a population of 1,063,024 with 5 wards (districts) within the city, and a further 35 municipalities within Miyagi Prefecture.  As of 1 April 2012, 23% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks.

Only one hour and thirty minutes by shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo, Miyagi was hit dramatically by the 11 March 2011 earthquake causing coastal areas of the prefecture to suffer catastrophic damage from a magnitude 9.0 offshore earthquake, in turn, triggering a massive tsunami, and further destruction of towns and villages along the coast.   Also largely destroyed was the town of Ishinomaki, where the tsunami was reportedly three stories high.

Miyagi’s economy has been traditionally focused on fishing and agriculture, producing a great deal of rice and livestock, and is now dominated by the manufacturing industries around Sendai, particularly electronics, appliances, and food processing.  Tourism is now playing a major role in the recovery from the events of 2011 – within the prefecture, Matsushima is known as one of the three historic most scenic views of Japan, with a bay of 260 small islands covered in pine groves, famously painted by prolific ‘ukiyo-e’ woodblock artist Yōshū Chikanobu.

The tour included looking at the current situation in the affected areas and introduced the measures taken by Miyagi Prefecture for revitalising the local economy; pursuit of potential cooperation on economic links with Europe and site visits to the coastal areas damaged by the tsunami looked at advance technology companies that have been re-established after the damage.  There were also visits to companies actively promoting expansion overseas as well as organisations and bodies promoting the region and tourist destinations, with further discussion of strategies for attracting foreign investment and market development.

Participant Andrew Tubb, Chief Executive Officer of Cirencester Town Council commented:  ‘The study tour provided the opportunity to experience an international culture within the context of local government and to be able to share best practice – it was truly humbling seeing how human needs were being met following the tsunami of 2011 and a privilege to meet so many amazing people committed to serving their local communities’.  Other members of the 2013 group were at JLGC’s Japan Day Seminar (JDS) in London on March 11 2014, to discuss what they saw in Miyagi as well as discuss wider issues of regeneration, under the theme of “Local Growth, Global Links”.

The tour takes place every year and will be to Kumamoto Prefecture at the end of 2014 (subject to final confirmation), and places are available to senior UK/EU public sector professionals.

CLAIR will cover accommodation, travel and food expenses in Japan during the tour, but participants must bear the cost of the return flight between the UK and Japan.  To register for the application pack when it is available please call 020 7839 8500 or email mailbox@jlgc.org.uk