Matsuyama Castle, built between 1602 and 1627 is the city's landmark. It sits 132 meters high, on top of Katsuyama Hill

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Matsuyama banks on tourism
and information technology

By Tokihiro Nakamura, Mayor of Matsuyama

10 May 2008: The tourism hotspot of Matsuyama in southern Japan has forged a reputation as an early adopter of optical capabilities in local industry and town planning, earning it the designation IT Business Model District by the central government.

Located in Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Matsuyama City is the nucleus municipality in the prefecture with a population of some 513,000. The metropolitan area is highly accessible as it takes only about ten minutes from the airport and harbors to the center of the city. (80 minutes from Tokyo, 50 minutes from Osaka by air). Matsuyama is rich in tourism resources such as Dogo Hot Spring, Matsuyama Castle, Shiki Memorial Museum, and “Saka no Ue no Kumo “ Museum.

Moreover, the approach of Matsuyama City, a member of the first group of provincial governments in the nation to address information technology use, has earned its designation as an IT Business Model District by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (designated tenth in the nation in April, 2004). Additionally, Matsuyama received much attention from both inside and outside Japan owing to its award from the Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (June of 2004).

In order to promote business fields related to IT communications in its urban industries, Matsuyama City first developed the “Strategy of e-Town Planning” as its vision for industrial promotion unique to Matsuyama City in March, 2002. On the basis of this strategy, we founded the optical fiber immediate advancement project, which subsidized half of the expenditure of installing fiber optics for communication businesses within the time limit of three years from inception. The advanced information infrastructure was in fact developed with over 3,000km of fiber optics installed in the city in just two and a half years. An ideal business environment for IT businesses has been created through utilization of "optical service" throughout the city.

Since the "IT Business Model Area Plan" of Matsuyama City was given the go ahead by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2004 as one of the priority districts in Japan, the appropriate environment for IT businesses and IT education have been enhanced including provision of advanced levels of information technology for all elementary and junior high schools in the city, as well as installation of optical fiber in the islands part of the city.

In addition, to promote the area plan in fiscal year 2005 "the Support Project for the Creation of e-business Models" was established which supported construction of business models by utilizing an advanced communication infrastructure, and as a result, eight companies have been recognized as part of this plan and their development has been positively augmented.

The enhancement of the advanced telecommunication environment has become a means to remove the geographic handicap between metropolises and local municipalities, and also an opportunity for corporations related to the information industry to relocate to Matsuyama City.

Acting positively and aggressively, Matsuyama has succeeded in attracting multiple corporations to the area; fifteen companies related to information or telecommunication business including call centers, in addition to another twenty-one companies, for a total of thirty-six. The venture capital according to corporate location mounted to about 25 billion yen, and over 3,000 new jobs were created.

We created a new industrial promotion vision aimed at the future called "Strategy of e-Town Planning Next" in March of 2006, focusing on the following fields.

"Cell-free protein synthesis system technology," initiated by Professor Yaeta Endo of Ehime University, has attracted significant attention from both inside and outside Japan on the assumption that his technology will greatly impact bio-industry. Matsuyama City aims at becoming the base city of protein research in the world by spreading this technology throughout the world by holding an international symposiums.

We are promoting a collaborative project of the environmental field centered on solar energy with our sister city, Freiburg, Germany, which is known as an environmentally friendly city. At the same time, we are working to attract enterprises related to the environment and to promote such venture companies.

For the future we have constructed a project in the medical treatment and welfare field with the cooperation of industrial, academic, and government sectors including medical institutions and nursing facilities in the city, and held an investigation study conference to contribute to the regional economy. In conjunction with the health care field we are now implementing demonstration experiments for remote rehabilitation in the Ehime University Hospital with the robot suit "HAL" (developed by Professor Sankai of Tsukuba University).

While referencing the advanced welfare country of Sweden, we are helping to develop a system which will enable us to detect and diagnose dementia in its early stages, and provide appropriate treatment. Moreover, we will help construct a network medical treatment system which can utilize image diagnosis and provide vital sensors particularly in island areas where the health care system has areas of concern.

In fiscal year 2007, we began supporting home-workers by a system which grants a subsidy to enterprises that employ tele-style workers who are able to work only from home.

As a part of the creation of a city for "Saka no Ue no Kumo," (Clouds above the Slope, a novel by Shiba Ryotaro whose main character General Yoshifuru Akiyama, father of the Japanese cavalry, was from Matsuyama) and a part of information network establishment for the future using the optical fiber network, we installed 13 real-time information terminals in the city in December of 2006, by which anyone can easily obtain real-time sightseeing, emergency, and private information including advertising. These terminals connect "people" to "the town" by utilizing five broadcasting means; video images, cell phone mail, electronic ticker-tape billboards, posters and pamphlets.

World Mayor 2023