PNG joins Yokohama journalists’ program

The City of Yokohama, in Japan, is hosting journalists from 10 of its 48 regional member countries of the Asian Development Bank this week for a journalists’ fellowship program.

This program, in the form of a tour, is a lead up activity that the second largest city in Japan is hosting before the 50th ADB meet in May.

Journalists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Maldives and Papua New Guinea will be given an insight of the city’s infrastructure, technology, lifestyle as well as arts and history this week.

Papua New Guinea is being represented by Loop PNG’s Sally Pokiton.

The Journalists will visit Yokohama’s waterfront urban development, called the Minato Mirai district, waste management systems, public transport systems and how it overcame the issue of pollution and traffic congestions, as well as its technology in disaster prevention and reduction.

Yokohama has a population of 3.73 million people and like Port Moresby, it had its share of urban issues that came with population growth over 40 years ago.

Issues such as waste management, pollution, traffic management as well as unchecked housing development, similar to the housing development boom NCD is experiencing, were faced in the city.

However, working together with the residents, the city authority improved the environment.

One significant feature in which the residents assisted with development, apart from elections, was through open forum debates.

Speaking to journalists during the first engagement on Tuesday, Yokohama’s executive director of development cooperation of Internal Affairs Bureau, Toru Hashimoto, said the city encourages public participation in development through public meetings.

All proposed development are brought to this mayor’s meeting where it is debated and passed, if agreed.

And yes, Hashimoto said a lot of projects do not go ahead too as a result of development being opposed.

Nevertheless, the City of Yokohama believes that its knowledge and experience in urban management and infrastructure could be applied by big cities in emerging countries that are facing similar problems it did over 40 years ago.

Like Port Moresby, Yokohama was also a trade port and is actually the first Japanese port to be open to various cultures through trade. It was a fish village when the first international port was open in 1859.

The old warehouse, which is called the Red Brick House where trade was first conducted in as a customs office, still remains and has been converted to a shopping mall.

The oldest commercial dockyard in the country has now been converted to a memorial park.

The old wharf was closed and trade moved elsewhere before the wharf front was backfilled and turned into an industrial zone, just like at the Down Town Central Business District and Harbour City.

(The participants in Japan’s Yokohama city this week)

Sally Pokiton