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date: 23 November 2017

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in Japan

Summary and Keywords

The latest climate change adaptation strategies adopted by local governments in Japan are discussed. A nationwide survey demonstrates several significant findings. While some prefectures and major cities have already begun to prepare adaptation strategies, most municipalities have yet to consider such strategies. This gap must be considered when studying the climate adaptation strategies of local governments in Japan, as municipal governments are crucial to the implementation of climate adaptation strategies due to high diversity in climate impacts and geographical conditions among municipalities within each prefecture in Japan. Key challenges for local governments in preparing adaptation strategies are the lack of expert knowledge and experience in the field of climate change adaptation, and compartmentalization of government bureaus. To address these issues, an interview study of six model prefectures in the SI-CAT (Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology) project by the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) was conducted in order to understand the details of challenges raised by adaptation among local governments in Japan. The survey results reveal that local government officials lack information regarding impact projections and tools for evaluating policy options, even though some of them recognize some of the impacts of climate change on rice crop, vegetable, and fruit production. In addition, different bureaus, such as agriculture, public health, and disaster prevention, focus on different outcomes of climate change due to their different missions. As this is the inherent nature of bureaucratic organizations, a new approach for encouraging collaboration among them is needed. The fact that most of the local governments in Japan have not yet assessed the local impacts of climate change, an effort that would lay the groundwork for preparing adaptation strategies, suggests the importance of cyclical co-design that facilitates the relationship between climatic technology such as climate models and impact assessment and local governments’ needs so that the technology developments clarify the needs of local government, while those needs in turn nurture the seeds of technology.

Keywords: policy implementation, risk assessment, questionnaire, co-design, expert knowledge

Introduction

Many local governments in Japan have developed “Regional Plans for Preventing Global Warming,” which focus on mitigation policies based on the Act on Promotion of Global Warming Countermeasures (referred to in Japanese as the Ontaihō). Ontaihō, issued in 1998, has obliged the larger local governments such as seireishitei-toshi,1 chūkaku-shi,2 and tokurei-shi3 to develop these regional plans since 2008. As of 2016, all 47 prefectures and 20 seireishitei-toshi as well as 357 municipalities that have no obligations have adopted such plans (EX Research Institute, 2016). Many local governments have established greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and have implemented various measures regarding mitigation policies according to this administrative plan. For example, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has taken the lead in mitigation policies throughout the nation, introduced the Carbon Reduction Reporting Program and Cap-and-Trade Program. Many local governments have tried to follow these programs; nevertheless, most of the programs introduced thus far have not had the same effects as Tokyo’s program (Baba, Tagashira, & Jin, 2012). Thus, the local governments have been committed to climate change, but they have focused on mitigation policies due to Ontaihō. This has resulted in a kind of locked-in effect to mitigation policies, which may be one of the challenges for local governments in addressing adaptation policies.

While there have been occasional actions by the national government, local governments’ actions to establish adaptation policies have been limited. From a relatively early stage, the national government has issued reports; for example, since 2008 the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has annually published A Report on Surveys of the Impact of Global Warming, and the Social Infrastructure Development Council of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism produced a report entitled Adaptation Strategies to Cope with Water-Related Disasters due to Global Warming. (2008). In addition, the Ministry of the Environment produced Wise Adaptation for Climate Change (2008) and Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation (2010), both of which were aimed at relevant departments in the national and local governments. Specifically, both reports indicated courses of action for adaptation strategies; essential points common across domains involved in investigating, planning, and implementing adaptation strategies; and procedures for examining adaptation strategies.

The Ministry of Environment’s Fourth Basic Environment Plan (2012) was more specific about the need to investigate and implement adaptation strategies for high-priority issues. Further, its Central Environment Council put forth its Report Concerning the Assessment of Impact by Climate Change in Japan and Future Issues in March of 2015. In November 2015, the Cabinet approved the national government’s National Plan for Adaptation to the Impacts of Climate Change and, internationally, the Paris Agreement was signed, committing to the average temperature rise prior to the Industrial Revolution to under 2 degrees Celsius. By issuing these plans, the Japanese government has set forth its adaptation strategies at the national level.

In response to these recent national and international trends, adaptation policies have begun to be explored at the local government level in Japan. Physical impacts of climate change can differ greatly among regions in Japan due to the country’s diverse geographical and climatic features. Therefore, in order to deal with the possible impacts of projected climate change, each prefecture and municipality should be encouraged to prepare its own adaptation strategies that address climate change impacts unique to that location. While very few local governments in Japan have completed the preparation of adaptation strategies, a review of the current trends in Japan can illustrate the opportunities and challenges in preparing such strategies. Local governments’ need for expert knowledge (scientific evidence) such as climate projection and impact assessment in order to develop adaptation strategies is summarized.

Previous Studies and Methodology

Although a vast amount of research in the field of natural science (particularly on climate projection and impact assessment) has been conducted, social scientific research on adaptation policy is limited, with the exception of some proposing comprehensive views of climate change and adaptation (e.g., Adger et al., 2009) and some on approaches of community-based adaptation (e.g., van Aalst, Cannon, & Burton, 2008). Much of the existing research on climate change adaptation in Japan is devoted to reviewing and analyzing the current practice of adaptation by various stakeholders in different sectors, including agriculture (Fujisawa & Kobayashi, 2011; Matsuura et al., 2012; Tsurita, Prabhakar, & Sano, 2013; Fujisawa, Kobayashi, Johnston, & New, 2015), fisheries (Makino & Sakurai, 2012), disaster management (Takeuchi & Shaw, 2010; Baba & Tanaka, 2015a), and public health (Honda, Ono, & Ebi, 2011; Martinez, Imai, & Masumo, 2011; Boeckmann, 2016). A few have explored public policy approaches to climate change adaptation at the national level (Prabhakar, Aoki, & Mashimo, 2013) and by a particular local government (Hijioka et al., 2016). Regarding climate change policy among local governments nationwide, some studies focusing on mitigation policy have been conducted (e.g., Nakaguchi, 2010); however, the nationwide trend on adaptation policy among local governments has not yet been clarified. On the global scale, Carmin, Nadkami, and Rhie (2012) conducted a worldwide survey of adaptation planning by dispatching a questionnaire to 468 ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability member cities around the world, and Aylett (2015) administered this once more to 350 ICLEI member cities. The surveys covered perceptions of climate change, vulnerability assessments, and the practice of adaptation planning; only a handful of Japanese cities participated in the former survey. The data presented here is distinct from the existing body of literature in that it captures the current status of adaptation policy-making by a number of local governments within a single developed country.

This study conducted two surveys, as shown in Table 1. The first was a nationwide questionnaire administered to the environmental bureaus of 155 local governments throughout Japan. The questionnaire was typically dispatched and returned by regular mail, but if requested, the respondents could return the questionnaire as an electronic file attachment to an email. Among the questions concerning policy process, some on the challenges of planning and implementation were similar to Aylett (2015). Given that the Climate Change Impact Adaptation Plan (Cabinet Office, 2015) and the Central Environment Council Recommendations (Central Environment Council, 2015) identified climate change impacts by domain that are already evident in Japan as well as projected to occur in the future, this study tried to capture the local situations of the subset of the government-indicated impacts in the form of appearance status, future potential of occurrence, impact severity, countermeasure urgency, and policy status. Similarly, this study asked about the types of scientific evidence, such as future projections of climate change impacts, that are needed to prepare adaptation strategies. The study asked that responses reflect respondents’ actual feelings related to their daily work rather than the formal views of their bureaus. In this manner, one of the salient features of this study is that it pays attention to links between the climatic technology regarding projection and the needs of local government.

The second survey involved more detailed questionnaires and interviews that were administered to four prefecture governments (Ibaraki, Saitama, Gifu, and Saga) which were selected as the “model local governments” in the Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology (SI-CAT) project of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), in which the authors are now involved as core members. Interviewees included multiple bureaus related to climate change adaptation issues such as environment, health protection, disaster prevention, and agriculture. Interviewees were asked to respond to a detailed questionnaire prior to the interview and were then interviewed in detail according to their answers. A few years previous, the authors conducted the questionnaire among all major local governments in Japan regarding their policies to secure resilience against the multiple risks surrounding their communities, including climate change, with the questions concerning external force risks, vulnerabilities, and outcomes to be prevented (Baba & Tanaka, 2015b). These questions were included in this survey again. Additionally, the survey prepared the full set of questions on government-indicated climate change impacts by domain in the form of appearance status, future potential of occurrence, impact severity, countermeasure urgency, policy status, and need for scientific evidence. These aforementioned details are the specific differences between the nationwide survey and that of the SI-CAT model prefectures. Because some local governments narrowed their responses down to topics in a specific domain while others tried to respond more comprehensively, the number of bureaus in each local government that provided responses is different.

Table 1. Survey design.

Nationwide Surveys of Major Local Governments

Detailed Survey of SI-CAT Model Prefectures

Survey Period

February–March 2016

January–February 2016

Participants

Environmental bureaus at 155 local governments and municipalities throughout Japan, including prefectures (except for Saitama, Nagano, and Gifu prefecture mentioned as the SI-CAT model prefectures whose contacts are the bureau of environment), government-designated major cities of seireishitei-toshi, chūkaku-shi, and tokurei-shi, and cities where prefecture capitals are located.

Ibaraki, Saitama, Nagano, Gifu, Kochi, and Saga prefecture (model prefectures participating in MEXT’s SI-CAT project).

Method

Surveys were distributed and collected by regular mail (when requested, an electronic file was distributed and collected by email).

After approximately two hours of lecture and discussion, participants completed the survey in the electronic file format and returned it via email.

Responses

123 (79.4%)

Ibaraki (bureaus of disaster prevention and agriculture), Saitama (bureau of environment), Gifu (all relevant bureaus of climate change adaptation), and Saga(bureau of disaster prevention)

* The responses of Nagano and Kochi will be confirmed in the future.

Questions

  • Climate change impact appearance status, impact seriousness, countermeasure urgency, policy intervention, and the need for expert knowledge (scientific evidence) such as climate projections and impact assessment for bureau of environment

  • The status of preparing of climate change adaptation strategies, challenges for preparing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies

  • Support expected for the investigation, promotion, and social implementation of adaptation climate change adaptation strategies

  • Climate change impact appearance status, impact seriousness, countermeasure urgency, policy intervention, and the need for expert knowledge (scientific evidence) such as climate projections and impact assessment for the other bureaus

  • Perceived policy-related external force risks, vulnerabilities, and outcomes to be prevented

  • Stakeholders to be involved in a policy process

  • *These questions are limited to the model prefectures

Results

Nationwide Trend in Preparing Climate Change Adaptation Strategies by Local Governments

While the majority (58%) of local governments in Japan have yet to start preparing adaptation strategies, our survey indicates a significant trend in the progress of preparing climate change adaptation plans among local governments in Japan: only 35% of the prefectures answered “no preparations had been initiated,” while three-quarters of chūkaku-shi and smaller cities indicated so. Fisher’s exact test also showed the difference to be statistically significant, suggesting that the tendency for progress in adaptation strategy development differed according to the size and resources of the local governments (p < .01) and indicating a lack of adaptation strategies among small municipal governments in Japan (see Figure 1).

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in JapanClick to view larger

Figure 1. Preparation status of climate change adaptation strategy in local governments nationwide by size.

The survey asked local officials to evaluate local impacts of climate change on water resources and natural ecosystems. For almost all of the impacts, the majority of the responses were “unable to assess the impacts at this moment.” This suggests that most of the local governments in Japan have yet to assess the local impacts of climate change, even though such assessment would lay the groundwork for preparing adaptation strategies. On the other hand, approximately 30% of local governments responded that the impacts are already evident in some areas of natural ecosystems, such as forests and marine ecosystems (see Figure 2).

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in JapanClick to view larger

Figure 2. Perception of climate change impacts (appearance status).

Next, the survey asked about the challenges in preparing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies (results are summarized in Figure 3). The most frequently raised challenges were issues within the local government offices, such as “Inadequate experience/expertise within the government,” “Difficulty obtaining budgetary provisions/inadequate resources within the government,” and “Differences in perception among government offices around segregation of duties and priorities.” On the other hand, indifference among stakeholders such as local businesses, councilpersons, and civil society organizations is relatively less-recognized as a challenge to preparing adaptation strategies. Therefore, key challenges rest within the administrative offices rather than among the stakeholders.

More than two-thirds of the respondents pointed to a lack of experience and expertise within the government offices as a challenge in such strategy implementation. Climate change adaptation is a relatively emergent policy issue, and thus the lack of expert knowledge and experience can be a crucial barrier to preparing such a strategy. In a similar vein, the majority of respondents pointed to a lack of resources and budget. Local governments seem to have the challenge of overcoming the domains of existing departments in preparing an adaptation strategy that requires a cross-sectional approach. Our nationwide questionnaire was answered by environmental bureaus, but such an adaptation strategy as that examined in the current study requires collaboration between a wide range of bureaus. In particular, the budgetary and sectionalism issues indicated in the current research were also indicated in the work of Aylett (2015). Therefore, this survey suggests a need to implement a collaborative mechanism involving different divisions in order to facilitate the preparation of adaptation strategies among local governments in Japan.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in JapanClick to view larger

Figure 3. Challenges for preparing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies in local governments.

The State of Adaptation Planning among the Model Prefectures

The status of climate change adaptation planning among model prefectures was also indicated in this study (see Figure 4). The survey used three categories of developing adaptation strategy: “An integrated adaptation strategy for the whole local government (spanning across multiple bureaus),” “An individual adaptation plan limited to a specific domain of a bureau,” and “Mention of climate change risks and adaptation in existing plans.” In the nationwide survey (depicted in Figure 1), only the “An integrated adaptation strategy” was questioned. All model prefectures responded having no plan to start preparing “An integrated adaptation strategy for the whole local government.” Two prefectures answered “An individual adaptation plan limited to a specific domain,” and three prefectures indicated already having “Mention of climate change risks and adaptation in existing plans.” Another prefecture also reported exploring the same approach.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in JapanClick to view larger

Figure 4. Status of climate change adaptation planning among model prefectures (N = 4).

Very recently, after these surveys, a few prefectures and major cities such as seireishitei-toshi have tended to establish an integrated adaptation strategy, and some prefectures have updated an adaptation plan in their “Regional Plans for Preventing Global Warming,” mandated by Japan’s Act on Promotion of Global Warming Countermeasures. As this formal plan must be updated every five years, it is natural for prefectures and major cities to add the elements of adaptation plans to the mitigation measures already mentioned in the previous versions of the plans in the process of updating them. As “Regional Plans for Preventing Global Warming” is an integrated climate change adaptation strategy for the whole local government (spanning multiple bureaus), this will be one of the typical ways to establish an integrated adaptation strategy for the future.

As well as the nationwide trends discussed in Figure 3, the model prefectures also pointed to a lack of experience and expertise within government offices, a lack of resources and budget, and overcoming the domains of existing departments in establishing adaptation strategy. The model prefectures will be provided with scientific evidence and resources from the Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology (SI-CAT) project, and they are expected to contribute to adaptation strategies. However, no model prefectures responded that they are preparing “An integrated adaptation strategy for the whole local government” at present. Therefore, attention must be paid to the role of scientific evidence and resources in collaboration with a wide range of bureaus when the model prefectures start to examine adaptation strategy.

Perceptions of Climate Change Hazards in a Model Prefecture

During the interviews administered to one of the model prefectures, the survey collected information on the various hazards perceived by a range of local officials belonging to different bureaus. Figure 5 shows the result. Climate change–related hazards were included in the categories “d. Climate-related disasters” and “e. Changes due to global warming.” Among the seven hazard categories, “d. Climate-related disasters” was most frequently chosen as “very critical” or “critical to a certain extent,” accounting for 80% of the total responses. The number of respondents who chose “very critical” for “e. Changes due to global warming” was the least among the seven categories. In fact, “unable to answer” was the most frequent response to that category.

The contrast of local officials’ reactions to these two categories of hazards is instructive. Although their awareness of relatively observable climate-related disasters such as floods and landslides is very high, they are less concerned about the emerging and gradually increasing hazards from global warming.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in JapanClick to view larger

Figure 5. Perceived external force risks for a model prefecture.

Table 2A and 2B show local officials’ reactions regarding what climate-related hazards they perceived as significant and what domains (agriculture, water resources, landslide disasters, etc.) they think would be affected. For example, the number “2” in the upper-left corner of Table 2A shows that two responses considered that extreme heat increases would affect the agricultural domain.

Table 2. A. Climate change risks and domains of major impact: Short-term extreme events in the model prefectures (N = 20) B. Climate change risks and domains of major impact: Long-term gradual changes in the model prefectures (N = 20).

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in Japan

Among the short-term extreme events, downpours in a short duration, heavy rains, and strong typhoons were considered significant hazards impacting the domains of landslide disasters and flood damage. Heavy snowfall, snowmelt flooding, and extreme summer heat were also frequently considered to be significant hazards. Consistent with the results observed in Figure 4, a high level of recognition of extreme events was observed in this survey as well. The respondents believed that these climate change hazards can have significant impacts on the domains of industrial and economic activity, and also on the lives of individuals. A wide range of potential impacts due to extreme events was recognized among the respondents.

On the other hand, regarding long-term gradual changes, the most frequent choice was the impact of increased rainfall on landslide disasters. There were also many responses citing increased temperature and rainfall as having significant impacts on the agricultural and natural ecosystem domains. Meanwhile, the impacts of decreased rainfall were regarded as significant for the domains of water resources, natural ecosystems, and agriculture. There was no response regarding fisheries and coastal management domains as the responding model prefecture was inland and thus does not manage a coastline.

Sensitivity, Adaptability, and Impacts to Be Avoided

The magnitude of impacts from climate change is not determined solely by hazards of climate change, such as heavy rain and extreme heat. The risks differ considerably according to the preparedness of the communities. For instance, the risks differ according to whether people live in flood-prone areas or whether an early warning system for heavy rains is properly installed. Therefore, when assessing the risks of climate change impacts on local governments, it is necessary to understand their vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptability) along with the hazards. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) defined a degree of sensitivity and adaptability that constituted “vulnerability” that is followed here and put in the context of local community.

“Sensitivity” here refers to the factors that contribute to an increased opportunity of being impacted by climate change hazards in the context of local community regarding people’s life and property. “Adaptability” refers to the possible measures taken by local governments, businesspeople, and residents in order to prepare for such climate change impacts in the context of local community.

Table 3 shows the number of responses to the questions about sensitivity and adaptability that local officials consider important, tabulated by the bureaus to which each respondent belongs. Respondents from different bureaus indicated different viewpoints on the issues related to sensitivity. Those at the disaster prevention bureau were concerned about infrastructure deterioration and exposure of people and property to climatic hazards (people and property being located in disaster-prone areas such as low-lying soft ground and steep slopes), as well as inadequate reserves of forests/undeveloped woodlands near populated areas and the risk of falling rocks from slopes and drainage performance. On the other hand, public health officials were more concerned about physically and socially vulnerable people. Those at the environmental bureaus considered depopulation and inadequate reserves of forests/undeveloped woodlands near populated areas to be the main problems in terms of the sensitivity from climate change hazards.

Among the adaptability questions, local officials at the disaster prevention bureau indicated their concerns for all items except medical care and health services. Among these, upgrading infrastructures, such as levees and water gates, received the most responses. Moreover, all bureaus indicated their concerns regarding “Administrative policies/plans for coping with climate change impact risks” and “Administrative resources (staffing, budget) to promote coping with climate change impact risks.” This suggests a mild consensus among the bureaus for an increase in resources for climate change adaptation. In addition, many considered “Resident and business preparedness for and understanding of climate change impact risks” to be one of the major concerns regarding climate change adaptation. This suggests the need to involve residents and businesses in preparing adaptation strategies at the local level.

Table 3. Perceived risk sensitivity and adaptability in the model prefectures.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in Japan

Local officials’ responses regarding climate change outcomes that should be prevented were divided into three categories: “Loss of life,” “Loss or damage affecting daily living or industry,” and “Damage to biodiversity or culture.” Table 4 shows the results. In the “Loss of life” category, all bureaus, in addition to the disaster prevention bureau, shared the notion that loss of life due to landslide disasters should be prevented. There is a gap among the bureaus in the perceptions in the “Loss or damage affecting daily living or industry” category. Disaster prevention and industry bureaus were more concerned about the disruptions to public transportation and financial services, while agriculture and environmental bureaus were more concerned with the possibility of discontinued agricultural activities. Staff at the public health bureau were most concerned about the inability to conduct daily activities due to extreme heat, as this could lead to an increased occurrence of heatstroke. The difference in respondents’ perceptions or concerns about these outcomes to be prevented indicates the existence of compartmentalization (known as tatewari in Japanese) among local government bureaus. As each bureau is assigned to a specific domain of public administration, it is natural that its staff are concerned about the climate change outcomes relevant to the bureau’s mission. But at the same time, it is a substantial barrier to implement a collaborative mechanism involving different divisions in order to facilitate the preparation of adaptation strategies.

Table 4. Outcomes to be prevented as perceived in the model prefectures.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in Japan

Expert Knowledge Needs for Preparing Adaptation Strategies among Local Governments

In the survey on model prefectures, responses to the kinds of expert knowledge (scientific evidence) necessary to prepare adaptation strategies were collected. One of the domains the survey focused on was agriculture. The survey obtained responses from two model prefectures regarding the appearance status, impact seriousness, countermeasure urgency, policy intervention, and need for expert knowledge (scientific evidence) such as climate projections and impact assessment in agriculture (see Table 5).

Table 5. Climate change impacts for the agricultural domain: Climate change impact appearance status, impact seriousness, countermeasure urgency, policy intervention, and the need for expert knowledge in two model prefectures.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies of Local Governments in Japan

In prefecture A, climate change impacts are evident especially in rice crop, vegetable, and fruit, and in prefecture B, the impacts are evident especially in fruit, wheat, beans, and feed crop. The local officials consider these impacts to be somewhat grave and requiring immediate response. However, their responses to policy intervention in most climate change impacts were “Currently unable to determine.” Only a few issues, such as the quality of rice crops and heat management inside greenhouses, were under investigation for policy intervention. On the other hand, both prefectures have the need for better expert knowledge (scientific evidence) for rice, vegetables, and fruits.

Climate change adaptation in agriculture requires a major decision regarding whether to make adjustments in ongoing cultivation techniques or to shift to different plant varieties that can accommodate future climatic conditions. The survey responses suggest a lack of expert knowledge (scientific evidence) necessary for making such a major decision. Local governments as well as farmers and other agriculture stakeholders need to understand the impact risks, future climate projections, and assessments of their impact on crops. Then, they must evaluate the effects of different adaptation measures. In addition to expert knowledge (scientific evidence) directly pertinent to agricultural operations, each local government may need to consider the social aspects of agriculture, such as depopulation of rural communities and the disappearance of villages.

Summarizing all responses of expert knowledge needs by model prefectures, examples of high-priority domains for climatic technology development include the following (see Table 6):

  • In the heat/health domain:

    • Increased frequency of summer heat waves

    • Increased incidence of heatstroke

  • In the agriculture domain:

    • Degraded quality of rice crops due to temperature rise

    • Slow growth of fruits due to high temperatures

    • Zones favorable for fruit cultivation moving northward

    • Damage associated with the shift of wild bird and animal habitats

  • In the disaster prevention domain:

    • Increases in heavy rains of short duration exceeding 50 mm of hourly rainfall

    • The occurrence of heavy rains exceeding a total rainfall of several thousand millimeters

Table 6. Domains with strong needs for expert knowledge in the model prefectures.

Agriculture

Rice

Vegetable

Fruit

Wheat, soybeans, forage crops, etc.

Insect pests, weeds

Agricultural production base (farmland, water, etc.)

Forestry

Timber production (man-made forests, etc.)

Terrestrial ecosystems

Impacts on wild birds and animals

Rivers

Flooding

Local run-off

Coastal areas

Sea level rise

Mountainous areas

Avalanches of earth and rocks, landslides, etc.

Others

Strong winds, etc.

Urban infrastructure, etc.

Water supply, transportation, etc.

Summer heat

Risk of death

Heatstroke

Domains that are original study subjects for the model prefectures in the Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology (SI-CAT) are presented in the shaded cells of Table 6, while domains written in the cells without shading are identified as potential needs by this survey. Thus, the technology development teams in the SI-CAT will provide expert knowledge (scientific evidence) of climate projections and impact assessment on subjects in shaded cells to the model prefectures, but expert knowledge (scientific evidence) for the potential needs of unshaded cells will not be provided in the SI-CAT due to budget and resource constraints. Regardless of whether a local government is a SI-CAT model government, when considering the horizontal deployment of adaptation strategies nationwide, some type of policy transfer agency that matches the potential needs of local governments should work with research institutions to develop climatic technologies.

Conclusion and Outlook

The nationwide survey revealed some important implications for enhancing climate change adaptation policy at the local government level. First, while some prefectures and major cities have already begun to prepare adaptation strategies, the majority of municipalities have yet to consider such strategies. This gap must be considered when climate adaptation strategies by local governments in Japan are studied, because municipal governments are crucial to the implementation of climate adaptation strategies due to the high level of diversity across Japanese municipalities’ climate impacts and geographical features. Second, key challenges faced by local governments in preparing adaptation strategies are found to be twofold: the lack of expert knowledge and experience in climate change adaptation, and compartmentalization of government bureaus. Climate change adaptation is a relatively new issue of public policy, and expertise in the area is still developing, particularly among local governments. Adaptation strategies often require the collaboration of multiple bureaus, such as agriculture, public health, and disaster prevention. However, such collaboration is difficult to achieve due to the nature of bureaucratic government.

Detailed questionnaires and interviews with the model prefectures were conducted in order to understand the details of challenges in policy process and the need for expert knowledge for preparing adaptation strategies. As was revealed in the nationwide survey, local officials lack expert knowledge regarding climate projections and impact assessment tools for evaluating policy options, despite recognizing some impacts of climate change on rice crop, vegetable, and fruit production. Different bureaus, such as agriculture, public health, and disaster prevention, focus on different outcomes of climate change according to their missions. Therefore, a new approach that encourages collaboration among various bureaus is necessary. A proposition is to put the questionnaire in this survey to use as a self-assessment tool for vulnerability within the various bureaus in local government. Local officials can communicate with each other on the results that show gaps regarding climate risks among bureaus. Further, as most of the local governments in Japan have not yet assessed the local impacts of climate change (an effort that would in turn lay the groundwork for preparing adaptation strategies), cyclical matching and co-design that facilitates the relationship between climatic technology development and local governments’ needs should be encouraged. Tailor-made climate change projections and local impact assessments based on the needs of local governments will be a good reference to plan adaptation strategy even though they have some uncertainties. Accordingly, guidelines to facilitate understanding of uncertainties and technical terms and web-based decision support tools are needed for capacity building of local officials. These individualized projections and assessments cannot be prepared for every local government but will offer examples for the mainstreaming of adaptation strategies.

Figure 6 depicts an attempt to understand mainstreaming of adaptation strategy through four stages in Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology (SI-CAT): (1) Implementation of climatic technologies in society starts with the development of technology (A. Technological Innovation). (2) The developed climatic technologies are incorporated into government adaptation strategy and bring about policy transformation and innovation (B. Policy Transformation). (3) Enforcement of new policies leads to changes in social systems that define public awareness and lifestyle, and institutions that define corporate activities (C. Transformation of Social Systems). (4) The ultimate goal of transformation of technology, policy, and social systems is to change society into an adaptive community in which all aspects adapt to climate change (D. Transformation of Society). To implement climate change adaptation strategy effectively, diverse “social technologies” such as scenario planning, stakeholder assessment, and role-play simulation are suggested. It is hoped that applying these social technologies to various climatic technologies will encourage co-design and co-production.

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Figure 6. Range of mainstreaming of adaptation strategy that can be assumed in SI-CAT.

Regarding the SI-CAT in the context of implementation in local government policies, there are assumed to be two issues—(a) (narrowly-defined) mainstreaming in policies and (b) incorporation into individual measures and projects. The first involves incorporating perspectives and policies on climate change impact assessment and adaptation into the master plans or fundamental strategies of local government, which are the most overarching and longest term administrative plans. The second assumes that “potential adaptive measures” are put into practice. These are existing measures that can be regarded as adaptive measures, for example, development of heat-resistant varieties in the agricultural sector. It also assumes that “additional adaptive measures,” such as digging further into potential adaptive measures based on new scientific evidence and developing fields, are planned. With regard to additional adaptive measures in fields such as conservation of natural environments and ecosystems, agriculture, disaster prevention, water environment, and health (thermal environment, infectious diseases), the new climatic technologies developed by SI-CAT are expected to realize some policy implementation by playing a role in further promoting, expanding, and reinforcing these measures.

Acknowledgments

This research was performed with the support of MEXT’s SI-CAT and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (topic number 26340122). The authors would like to express our sincere gratitude to the local officials who participated in the interview and questionnaire surveys, to Ms. Chie Hayashi (Hosei University Center for Regional Research), and to Mr. Yu Nagata (Chiba University Graduate School of Horticulture) and Ms. Yuki Isobe (University of Tokyo Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences).

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Notes:

(1.) A government-designated major city with a population of over 500,000.

(2.) A government-designated moderately sized city with a population of more than 300,000. This figure was changed to 200,000 recently.

(3.) A government-designated moderately sized city with a population of more than 200,000. This has been incorporated with chūkaku-shi recently.