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International City Network and Public-Private Cooperation Japanese Public Water Services’ Overseas Expansion

Naoki Fujiwara ()
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Naoki Fujiwara: Associate Professor, Faculty of Regional Development Studies, Otemon Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan

No 1909, CIRIEC Working Papers from CIRIEC - Université de Liège

Abstract: Urbanization has progressed in parallel with rapid economic development in Asia, and people living in the region’s megacities face severe urban environmental problems, with the water-environment problem being especially serious. Such cities must develop the infrastructure to provide clean water and process sewage in densely populated areas. Meanwhile, water-supply and sewerage services in Japan are conducted by municipalities as a public service, but their revenues are shrinking in response to a decreasing birthrate, an aging population, and the waterconservation movement. In this study, we investigated the overseas expansion of Japanese public water services as an effort to improve the living environment in developing Asian countries and to advance the sustainability of public water services. The research methods included scrutinizing preliminary research, conducting case studies through text analysis of materials issued by national and local governments, and conducting interviews with municipalities. We examined four urban municipal water services, including ones in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Kitakyushu, that developed publicprivate cooperative platform associations for expanding abroad. As a result of the research, we first identified the overseas expansion of public water services as a collaborative model—based on an international inter-city network—for solving urban problems. Japan’s water-related public and private sectors have a motivation to share their technologies and experiences of solving urban waterrelated environmental problems with the growing cities of Asia, but it is difficult for Japanese public water services to sustain a unilateral contribution to developing countries because their business environment is becoming less hospitable in a shrinking domestic market. Therefore, with national governmental support, major municipal water services in Japan have aimed to expand their business abroad to achieve regional economic development, relying on trust based on the solidarity and cooperation of the international cities to reduce the transaction cost of international water-related project development. Second, we clarify that the public-private cooperative platform established by the leadership of municipalities enhances the accountability and transparency of the overseas expansion projects of public water services. Municipalities hold themselves accountable to be fair to citizens and stakeholders. The Public and private cooperative platform established by Japanese public water service, as an intermediate organization, not only develops the implementation capacity but also strengthens accountability and transparency of the international public water service 5 expansion projects’ sharing information about the water-environment problems of each cities and selecting project partner companies. Third, we find that the international city networks that municipalities build are evolving from one-to-one mutual networks to multilateral networks. To date, municipalities have developed international sister-city networks that centered more on cultural and educational administrative exchanges. Recent years, however, have witnessed the rise of more pragmatic city networks that focus on problem-solving city liaisons. Municipalities are realizing the efficiency of mutual project-making and of participating in international associations or organizations of cities for specific purposes. They even organize international meetings or conferences at which they seek business partner cities, promote their environment technologies to their region, and enhance their brand images as regional technology hubs.

Keywords: cooperative platform; accountability; multilateral network (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L32 R11 R58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-ppm, nep-sea and nep-ure
Date: 2019-09
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