Describe very shortly what are the lessons drawn from your city since it has been designated City of Design?
Through building a network with other cities, we had the chance to reassess our own city again from an objective point of view. Looking at things both at home and abroad, from both a micro and macro perspective, the dots started to connect for us. Our designation gave us a name for our creative principles as well as the opportunity to share these values with Kobe’s citizens, which has become a major source of pride.
What is the value of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (CCN) membership (especially in your specific domain) to your city? How does it contribute to the social and economic aspects of the city? What has your city gained from the network since the joining, or how has the network been beneficial to your city?
We realised that we have many values that we share with other cities. When cities are confronted with social and economic challenges, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is able to support us to take a step forward. In other words, we are able to work to solve problems with pride and confidence. In the midst of this, it has become possible to involve small businesses, young people, senior citizens, women, students, and all kinds of human resources. We are still investigating how to measure the impact of these effects.
Are there cities of the Network whose experience has been particularly interesting for your city?
All cities have their own unique specialties. The fact that we are able to more deeply engage with cities that have such diverse cultures and languages is a major stimulus for all of us.
What has your city brought to the network, as a member of UNESCO Creative Cities Network? Are there cities that you have supported in some domain, in particular?
I don’t believe that we have reached our full potential yet. I want to work to discuss social issues and think and work together with other cities toward real solutions, with the aim of promoting the increased happiness of humans around the world.
In light of your concrete experience, why do you think networking for culture is important for the cities today?
We are no longer able to move people and change society solely through economic value. Cultural networks are a means of sharing confidence, pride, and culture, none of which can be bought with money. I believe that this kind of networking is an opportunity to confirm how we think of human happiness and fundamental human values.
What does it take, namely in terms of budget and planning, to ensure an active role as a Creative City, namely in your specific field and within your sub-network?
The most important element is maintaining the autonomy of each city. First, it is important to begin from a budget that does not place an unnecessary burden on the city. From there, we reveal what is possible from each city within this budget, gather opinions, and share our wisdom - this process is indispensable. After achieving results, we can then begin to secure new funding.
What are the challenges and difficulties, both financial and organizational, the city had to go through to ensure its work as member of the Network?
The biggest challenge we ever faced was the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. Charged with the immense task of restoring the daily lives of our citizens, Kobe deliberately chose to work for creative solutions to problems and increased the spirit of cooperation with the private sector. I want to see these efforts continue into the future.
What are the links between the local dimension of you commitment and your national government?
Kobe has experienced the recovery process following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and while we are autonomous from the national government, we also have the responsibility of being a model for how to handle city administration in the face of challenges. Kobe is expected to develop new creativity and experiment with new ideas, and we will work to share the fruits of our endeavours with the rest of Japan.
Can you mention some particularly significant activities that have been implemented after the designation?
We renovated a former raw silk inspection plant into the hub for the “Design City KOBE” initiative, which reopened as the Design and Creative Center Kobe (KIITO). Here, people engage in not only product design and creation, but also use the centre as a venue for solving social issues with the power of design. In this way, KIITO promotes the nurturing and accumulation of creative human capital.
What are the future projects of your city in order to consolidate its position within the CCN?
As creative problem-solving efforts rooted in local communities spread throughout the world to address various social issues, I envision Kobe taking a role in creating added richness in autonomous living. I want our city to actively set themes and experiment with new projects, accumulate results, and demonstrate these to the world.
City of Kobe