International City Network and Public-Private Cooperation for Urban Water-Environment Management
A Study of Japanese Public Water Services’ Overseas Expansion
Urbanization has progressed in parallel with rapid economic development in Asia, and people living in the region’s megacities face severe urban environmental problems, with the water-environment problem being especially serious. Meanwhile, water-supply and sewerage services in Japan are conducted by municipalities as a public service, but their revenues are shrinking in response to a decreasing birthrate, an aging population, and the water-conservation movement. In this study, we investigated the overseas expansion of Japanese public water services as an effort to improve the living environment in developing Asian countries and to advance the sustainability of public water services. The research methods included scrutinizing preliminary research, conducting case studies through text analysis of materials issued by national and local governments, and conducting interviews with municipalities. As a result of the research, we first identified the overseas expansion of public water services as a collaborative model—based on an international inter-city network—for solving urban problems. With national governmental support, major municipal water services in Japan have aimed to expand their business abroad to achieve regional economic development, relying on trust based on the solidarity and cooperation of the international cities to reduce the transaction cost of international water-related project development. Second, we clarify that the public-private cooperative platform established by the leadership of municipalities enhances the accountability and transparency of the overseas expansion projects of public water services. Third, we find that the international city networks that municipalities build are evolving from one-to-one mutual networks to multilateral networks.
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