The team responsible for the preparation of the Master Plan for the Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Development (MPSUID) in Calapan City conducted a study tour in Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan on November 24-30, 2019.

The team was composed of OIC-Regional Director (RD) Susan A. Sumbeling and OIC-Assistant RD Bernardino A. Atienza, Jr. of the NEDA MIMAROPA with four NEDA technical staffs together with the consultants from Philkoei International Inc. and TAM Planners Co.

Yokohama is a good model for Calapan City because of its experience from being once a small fishing village that developed into one of the busiest and largest ports in the world.

While in Yokohama, the team visited the Osanbashi (Grand Pier) International Passenger Terminal, Yokohama Archives of History, Yokohama Port Museum, Yokohama Customs Museum, Japan Coast Guard Museum, Marine and Walk, Yokohama Red Brock Warehouse, and Ramen Museum. The team was able to appreciate the development of Yokohama and its rise from the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923.

The team rode the Sky Duck Yokohama (amphibious bus) both in land and water, which Calapan City could also use during flooding and for rescue and tourism purposes.

Mr. Akifumi Watanabe, general manager for Urban Planning and Spatial Development Department of Nippon Koei, welcomed the team in their head office at Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The team discussed the objectives of the study tour in line with the ongoing master plan study for Calapan City by their Philippine counterpart, Philkoei International Inc., in joint venture with TAM Planners Co.

The Tokyo study tour provided the team with the knowledge and appreciation on environment protection, disaster prevention and response, and preservation of cultural heritage. The team visited the Tokyo Sewerage Museum, Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, Kamakura City, and the Nippon Koei Research and Development Center.

The Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park is a functioning headquarter for disaster prevention in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, and it houses emergency response facilities. The team toured the facility and witnessed a simulation of a large-scale earthquake in an urban setting, learned how to survive in the first crucial hours following a disaster, and answered interactive quizzes to test one’s readiness in the event of disaster.

The visit to the Nippon Koei Research and Development Center, meanwhile, showcased the research conducted to counter the effects of flooding, earthquake, and other disasters. These include the innovative design of a man hole, weir, and use of artificial intelligence. The research and development center is a private firm that promotes and apply advanced technologies.

In the development of urban areas in Japan, there are three distinct common features: museum, open space/park, and trees. The museum presents the historical information, facts, and events of a certain area or products, e.g., port development or history of ramen. The museum also serves as transfer of knowledge and culture from previous cmmunity to present and future generation. Open space, parks, and trees blend well with the existing buildings and facilities, which makes the urban development sustainable.

The team appreciated and learned how Yokohama has developed into a sprawling port city with lots of open space/park and tourism attraction and how it was able to document these developments as showcased in their museums. Tokyo;s preservation of its environment, readiness during disaster, and the engagement of the private sector in research and development are some of the gains of the team in the study tour.

Moreover, the team together with the consultants agreed that while it is still a long way for Calapan City to achieve the level of development of Yokohama as a major port for foreign and domestic shipping, the formulation of the MPSUID is a step that will lead to its realization in the future.