Kyoto Landscape Policy 2007/ Landscape Act 2005

景観法 – Landscape Act 2005

[National Government]

The 2005 Landscape Act was a huge move by the Japan Government to support local governments in their efforts to protect their historical city fabric, both legally and financially.

Japan’s economic development reached its peak near the end of the century. The GDP graph shows the peak at 1995 and a stable fluctuation afterwards. Japan began to shift focus from being economically driven to being more environmentally and culturally driven. The preservation of the historical cityscapes became a major area of interest for not only Kyoto, but other cities and regions as well. The nation saw the establishment of 500 landscape-related ordinances, but their effects were limited [1]. In fact before the Kyoto’s 2007 policy, the city already had numerous policies that aimed to protect its city fabric, without actual laws in place, those ordinances from local authorities could only be exhortations [2]. There was also a lack of financial support from the government, and this came to the attention of the national government.

In 2005, the Landscape Act was officially released by the Japan government, solving those problems. It gave local authorities the right to select official ‘Landscape Planning Areas’ and establish policies to regulate the urban cityscape. Under the Landscape Act, local authorities could impose fines on those who do not follow the regulations, and the government would cover parts of the costs for maintenance or purchase of old buildings. Designated non-profit organizations were also required to provide suggestions for preservation of the historical cityscapes and support the local citizens. The idea of landscape (景観) doesn’t just apply to man-made landscapes, the Landscape Act also considers natural features part of the city and provides support for the preservation of trees and nature reserves.

Japan GDP (in USD) source: Authors Image, data from World Bank
Summary of Landscape Act 2005 Source: MLIT

[1] Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). “景観法の概要”. September 2005. http://www.mlit.go.jp/crd/townscape/keikan/pdf/keikanhou-gaiyou050901.pdf. Accessed 19th December 2018

[2] City of Kyoto. “The History of Landscape Formation and Town Development in Kyoto”. 2007. http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/tokei/cmsfiles/contents/0000057/57538/2shou.pdf. Accessed 19th December 2018

2 Comments on “Kyoto Landscape Policy 2007/ Landscape Act 2005

  1. It is interesting to see that the idea of landscape does not apply to the man-made landscape. As commonly known that Kyoto is a city famous of its own history cityscape and temples, I wonder if historical preservation would be a new way for the city to sustain its economic development through preservation?

    • Yes, preservation of the historical cityscape has attracted many tourists to Kyoto, boosting the local economy. If you are interested you can take a look at the posts by Rayna, who examines the tourism induced by the landscape policy.

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