It is often said that reconstruction after the Great Earthquake was carried out with the participation of the residents. A common expression is "machizukuri (community development) through collaboration", which means that the authority and the residents work together. "Collaboration" here is regarded as one of the keywords to express the lesson learned from the great earthquake, especially outside the affected areas.

In the quake-hit areas, discussion of 'machizukuri' is difficult as people have complicated and mixed feeling towards the expression.

Many professionals engaged in governmental urban planning are officials usually referred to as "technocrats". Bureaucrats of justice who have a detailed knowledge of the City Planning Law and the Building Code, bureaucrats who specialize in economy to be engaged in planning and management of development projects, and bureaucrats who have studied construction and civil and architectural engineering. Such a group of technocrats draws up a so-called master plan for the whole city and pushes urban plans forward, claiming that they are for the "Development of a Comfortable Community". Thus, urban planning which implicates residents has come to be called "machizukuri with residents' participation".

The urban planning in Kobe city after the great earthquake was technocrat-led "machizukuri with residents' participation" through and through. A "machizukuri council" was organized only when the residents were obedient to the authorities-led policy. Residents and organizations against the planning policy were not allowed to participate and excluded from the actual process of community development. This basic nature has not changed at all.

Machizukuri through collaboration was carried out in many districts in Kobe city where urban plans such as rezoning and redevelopment were implemented. In these districts, residents and right-holders formed machizukuri councils. The system is that a machizukuri council discuss the context of an urban plan with the aid of professional consultants and put forth their proposal to the city authorities, which carry out the plan taking the proposal into consideration.

There are more than 100 machizukuri councils formed in Kobe city alone. The fact that over 100 councils emerged and people discussed urban plans means progress. Unfortanately, in many cases dominant figures in the district took the leading positions in the councils, and approved the original plans drawn up by consultants commissioned by the city authority.

Machizukuri through Collaboration, the Product of Forced Urban Plans

Kobe city established the Community Development Ordinance in 1981 as the first case in Japan and has been encouraging residents' participation. Therefore it appears that machizukuri in post-disaster reconstruction was a fruitful result of the history. That is, however, not the case here the machizukuri through collaboration after the disaster produced urban plans which were forcibly decided on March 17, 1995. The plans have faced overwhelming opposition from the citizens. After the decision of the urban plans was made, Kobe city set forth three basic policies. Of the three, the most important policy is to ask the residents to form the 'machizukuri' council. "Collaboration" is in a way an apology by the authorities for neglecting the citizens' opinions and will. In the future urban plans will be impossible to further carry out without the "residents' participation".

"Collaboration" with Contradictions

The residents' participation in machizukuri, or community development, is essential in itself. However, there is a fundamental contradiction in the reconstruction urban plans. The community organizations are not expected to discuss the urban plans or the community development from the starting point but are only elected to act as a consensus building mechanism to approve the predetermined plans.

Genuine Residents' Participation

It is imperative to carry out community reconstruction through residents' participation in the true sense. Accordingly it is necessary to encourage residents to participate in machizukuri on a regular basis before a disaster occurs to build consensus regarding the future vision of the community. For the authorities, it is important to disclose detailed and full information concerning urban plans and community development, to make every effort to promote residents' participation, and to establish a system to dispatch impartial professionals and consultants to aid the residents.

(HIROHARA Moriaki / SHIOZAKI Yoshimitsu)