On Nov. 19, Prime Minister Kishida announced a record ¥55 trillion ($488 billion) fiscal stimulus. A lot of this huge package will go towards energy and related infrastructure. One of the core targets is called “National Resilience,” an integrated program that has been in place since 2014.
Most observers initially dismissed National Resilience as merely a misleading rubric for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to throw money at its core rural supporters. However, it’s become clear that the program isn’t another iteration of Japanese pork barrel politics. The fact is that Japan’s infrastructure — from its 716,466 bridges to its 10,645 tunnels and over 179,000 kilometers of transmission lines — is aging and in need of repair and upgrades.
Climate change and the increase in extreme weather events is making the situation even more urgent. In consequence, Japan’s National Resilience program has been adopted by all the prefectures and – as of November – by 1,457 of the country’s 1,741 cities, towns, and villages.
Japan’s resilience-building solutions are not predicated on the “hard” investments in concrete and steel that embodied the 20th century construction state. In power, water, and other utilities, the government is investing heavily in “soft” approaches, including digital technology for better monitoring and forecasting, real-time and user-friendly risk communication, integrated governance, and the dissemination of business continuity planning.
Indeed, Japan’s soft approaches are paying off in helping realize the decentralized and distributed soft energy and soft water paths advocated by Amory Lovins and other experts.