JAPAN TIMES • 15 March 1988


Cosmopolis to Charge Senshu’s Lagging Economy

Proposed tri-city boomtown to follow in footsteps of new Kansai airport

By BRIAN COVERT
STAFF WRITER

OSAKA — Local business and government officials plan to transform the lagging economy of the prefecture’s southern Senshu region into a tri-city boomtown by 1994.

They plan to do it by following the lead of the ¥1 trillion Kansai International Airport project now underway in Osaka Bay.

“We cannot think of developing this city without the construction of the airport,” said Izumisano Mayor Noboru Mukae.

Izumisano and the nearby cities of Kishiwada and Izumi have united under a “Cosmopolis Plan” aimed at enticing Japanese and foreign firms to a combination high-technology industrial park and research center.

“Within 10 years this area will change dramatically,” says Mukae. “We must make this area grow” to meet international standards.

Mukae’s concern for “internationalization” may be valid: Izumisano will be the town on the Osaka mainland directly linked by bridge to the offshore international airport.

The airport will be on a man-made island 5 km out in Osaka Bay. The project is scheduled for completion by 1993.

The three cities of the Cosmopolis Plan, which is sponsored by the prefectural government and the Osaka Industrial Association, hope to have their respective lots sold by the following year.

Considering that local government and business leaders are putting all their hopes on the 24-hour airport to “revitalize” the economy of Osaka and the Kansai region, selling land lots may not to too difficult.

For Izumisano, the city at the receiving end of the airport’s 3.8-km-long access bridge, the potential benefits are looking especially good.

In this coastal area of over 90,000 residents where towel-making, fishing and farming make up the chief industries, a new airport would be just the solution to the city’s slumping economy.

“There are many minor industries. They are not successful these days,” admits Mukae, who was recently re-elected to the post he has held since 1976.

Economic prospects

“One of the biggest impacts the new airport will have on this city is bringing in high-tech industries,” he said.

Though joint research will be done on the Cosmopolis Plan, each of the three participating cities is responsible for developing its own area.

According to city officials, Izumisano has ¥300 million in prefectural, municipal and private funds to spend on the plan’s development until 1990. Cosmopolis will be located in a 100-hectare area in its Kaminogo district, inland from its seaport and near the Senshu foothills. About 2,000 people are expected to be working at the site.

The city of Kishiwada is planning its 210-hectare Cosmopolis at the foot of nearby Mount Kohno, while Izumi is mapping out a 100-hectare version at its Haruki-Hisai district.

Airport stands to gain

The airport also stands to gain from the Cosmopolis Plan, according to Koki Nagata, public relations manager for the Kansai International Airport Co. Ltd.

The two projects, Nagata says, would feed off each other. A thriving Cosmopolis would help support a flourishing Kansai Airport, and vice-versa.

Mayor Mukae’s own optimism of the airport plans came only after an ¥11 billion environmental impact study on airport-related projects was done by the prefectural and national governments.

He says that areas of concern were possible air, sea and noise pollution. Others were municipal development coinciding with the airport plans and some financial backing for the local cities.

Project moves along

Once those requests were cleared up, Mukae said, Izumisano and the neighboring towns of Sennan and Tajiri approved of the airport plans in December 1986.

Construction of the airport began in January 1987.

“I think it’s the first big project in Japan that listened to local people’s opinions,” he said.

Mukae still worries that environmental drawbacks could arise if the number of departing and arriving airplanes deviates from the 160,000-per-year limit in the environmental assessment.

Other separate development projects, like a local “fisherman’s wharf,” alleviate his worries that Izumisano could become just a transportation junction between the airport and the mainland.

“We are making efforts to make this city attractive so that people will not pass by,” Mukae said.

With a 50-hectare “green area” of Izumisano’s Cosmopolis Plant off-limits to developers, he adds, there’s no chance for overdevelopment.

Now, six years before this proposed tri-city boomtown areas is to spring up, foreign and Japanese companies are inquiring about the project.

American companies seem concerned with the local environment, the land prices and if enough local workers are available, according to Mukae.

“Japanese industries don’t care about the environment — they care about the (cheap) cost of the land,” he said.

( © Japan Times 1988)