Urban planning

With Japan’s population undergoing a demographic shift, cities are becoming more compact, tight-knit and supportive.

When it comes to designing sustainable cities for an ageing society, city-planners are increasingly looking to a shining example from Japan’s Hokuriku region. Faced with demographic shifts and a host of other challenges, Toyama began charting its re-emergence as a compact city in 2007. Over the past decade public transport has been revitalised, universal health facilities developed and residents welcomed back into the city centre.

Designated as one of Japan’s Sustainable Development Goals Future Cities in 2018, Toyama is also providing sustainability leadership on the global stage. As a member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network, the city shares its expertise in tackling demographic challenges, while also actively promoting renewable energy through international partnerships.

In the Indonesian city of Semarang, Toyama is working on research to reduce carbon emissions through renewable energy and converting public buses to using natural gas. A similar project was undertaken in Iskandar, Malaysia, where a Toyama-based company installed a hybrid micro-hydroelectric plant with the aim of promoting sustainability.

The creation of inclusive, safe and sustainable cities forms one of the Sustainable Development Goals. As Toyama’s story of regeneration continues, the city is helping its global counterparts achieve their own sustainability goals.


In 2030 about one third of Toyama residents will be senior citizens. Countering this challenge, the city’s future-facing initiatives are producing real results. Investment in the development of an accessible Light Rail Transit (LRT) system has seen ridership more than double since 2006. On the ground, the Odekake Pass has encouraged senior citizens to be more active, resulting in a projected ¥79m reduction in annual medical costs.