An Intercultural Vision for Hamamatsu – Shining into the Future

 

For over a decade now the Japanese city of Hamamatsu – proud of its manufacturing industry and the contribution of foreign residents to its development – has put in place an intercultural policy focusing on Coexistence, Exchange, Cooperation and Promotion and bridge building between inhabitants with diverse backgrounds. In 2012 foreign citizens – majorly long-term residents from Brazil, Philippines, China and Peru – represented 3.1% of the total city population. This policy built upon the Hamamatsu Declaration (2001) adopted by the national Council of Thirteen Municipalities with a Large Migrant Population, which underlined the importance of foreign residents in city planning and creating a new regional culture, and called for shaping a society “based on the respect for rights and fulfillment of obligations” and “understanding of and respect for the cultures and values of one another”*.

 

However, it was not until March 2011 that the city included an Intercultural City vision in the second Hamamatsu City Comprehensive Plan (2013-2017), which positions Hamamatsu as a Creative City built by civil collaboration and shining into the future. This vision aims to realize the creative city that is Hamamatsu, making use of its diversity through initiatives relating to intercultural integration. It is commendable that the vision was informed by Hamamatsu’s Foreign Residents Council and thus addresses challenges faced by foreign residents (e.g., employment insecurity, insufficient health protection, lower school enrollment rate, weak participation in neighbourhood associations and a lack of disaster prevention awareness due to insufficient command of Japanese). The vision explicitly refers to the Intercultural Cities Programme as a partner and source of inspiration.

 

Hamamatsu’s Intercultural City vision is transversal and promotes active involvement of foreign residents in the city’s life. Thematic policies are based on three targets – collaboration, creation and comfort – and include different initiatives. For instance, the collaboration policies aim to foster dialogue and interaction between residents of diverse cultures. Relevant initiatives include promoting an “all-Hamamatsu approach” through cooperation between different city departments, private sector and citizen groups; education for mutual understanding; creating opportunities for interaction and foreign resident participation in city planning. The creation policies aim to build a community where Japanese and foreign residents alike can use their abilities and create new values with diverse cultures integrated. Relevant activities include leadership education for future generations; fostering intercultural business; the creation of a new common culture and promotion of cooperation with cities in Japan and abroad. The comfort policies aim to build a community where everyone can live in peace and comfort. Relevant initiatives include disaster prevention; communication support; support in addressing local challenges; medical, health and welfare issues, and housing.

 

The Intercultural City vision is implemented jointly by government agencies (Hamamatsu’s Intercultural Integration Promotion Council; the Council of Municipalities with a Large Migrant Population; City Council’s Divisions of International Affairs; Universal Design and Gender Equality; Welfare; Education Development; Cultural Policy; Industrial Affairs; Civic Partnership and Regional Policy; Tourism Promotion; Crisis Management, etc.) and citizen groups (Hamamatsu Intercultural and Foreign Resident Study Support Centers, Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communications and Exchanges, universities, private companies, neighbourhood associations, and foreign community groups).

 

The implementation of Hamamatsu’s Intercultural City vision will be reviewed annually basing on performance indicators. Nine performance indicators, including surveys, the number of attendees at intercultural events and the number of visits of dedicated internet portals, have been identified in relation to some policy initiatives. We hope that Hamamatsu will strengthen the system of performance indicators within the first year of implementation.

 

Christina Baglai


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Hamamatsu Declaration and Proposal (Japanese only)

Hamamatsu Intercultural City Vision (full version in English)