Analysis of International City-to-city Cooperation and Intercity Networks for Japanese National and Local Governments

Discussion Paper
Analysis of International City-to-city Cooperation and Intercity Networks for Japanese National and Local Governments

The effectiveness of international city‐to‐city cooperation and intercity networks has been highlighted by developmental agencies and local governments overseas, yet, a majority of Japanese local governments question the merits, particularly with developing cities. This report aims to answer questions posed by Japanese local governments and reviews international city‐to‐city cooperation and intercity networks in Japan and Asia and analyses how they can be improved. Then, it turns to suggestions to Japanese national and local governments and intercity networks. The analysis is based on a literature review and interviews with local governments and secretariat members of international intercity networks and existing studies.

The findings include that the Government of Japan must set a clear division of work between the national and local governments and provide adequate legal and financial frameworks to support local governments, if it is interested in promoting international city‐to‐city cooperation for national interests. Japanese local governments are encouraged to participate in North‐South cooperation without a preoccupation that it is a one‐way transfer of knowledge and resource. Issues such as climate change and natural disasters are equally new and difficult to every city, regardless of the developmental stage and income level, and there are many areas that Japanese cities can learn from and work with developing cities. Objectives and activities must be strategically structured to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of international city‐to‐city cooperation, and it successfully continues when supported by public and multiple people within a local government.

International intercity networks are used as a platform to share knowledge and build capacity, but not many are involved with policy advocacy and none seems to provide Japanese local governments with financial and political resources in making policies. For good governance of intercity networks and active involvement of member cities, a periodic change of a president city is suggested to increase free flows of information and transparency. To enhance the financial condition, it is recommended to diversify funding sources, although the collection of membership fees has both pros and cons. International intercity networks are encouraged to evaluate their projects on a consistent basis, however, in order to do so, understanding and cooperation by local governments is critical.

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