Tsukuba Science City (Japan)
When it comes to research and development for the technology industry, Japan is far and away the world leader in innovation. Aside from the excellent universities and powerhouse technology companies found in Japan, the entire culture has a very proactive perspective on technology. As a matter of fact, much of Japan's economic prowess has been derived from this very forward-thinking approach to technology.
Tsukuba Science City provides a glimpse into this technologically-rich culture in a very refined way. As a Japanese "science city," Tsukuba is especially well-placed to provide a glimpse into what the future holds for the Japanese. Its facilities, its reputation and its local culture are truly indicative of how the Japanese approach science education and development. While there are many cities like Tsukuba throughout Japan, there are few that have had such a significant impact on the economy and culture of the surrounding area. Thanks to the influence of Tsukuba, people throughout Ibaraki Prefecture are able to enjoy better education and greater economic stability.
The History of Tsukuba Science City
Tsukuba Science City was a concept that started out in the 1960s, but didn't reach full realization until around 1985. Originally, the city was meant to be a place for major research and development companies to move their operations to. This was seen as a way to ease the overcrowding being experienced in neighboring Tokyo. Since Tokyo is only 50 kilometers outside of Tsukuba Science City, residents could get the best of both worlds. They could get the culture and resources of the big city while getting the tranquility of being outside of such a concentrated population.
The other benefit to moving these research operations out of town was that it benefited the communities local to the area. With these large businesses came investment dollars. As these investments grew, better schools were built, a more advanced curriculum was developed, and the entire region benefited from the arrangement. In fact, one of the biggest selling points of Tsukuba Science City with politicians was that it would help support research and development throughout Japan.
The city was broken up into two distinct zones. These zones are referred to as the "Research District" and the "Suburban District." Both of them play uniquely important roles in the city, and they compliment each other perfectly. After all, there are now more than 300 large public and private companies operating out of Tsukuba Science City. This draws roughly 200,000 people here, and the city requires a relatively large population to keep these businesses staffed. The National University of Tsukuba is also a big draw here, and students come from around the world to study here. There are also at least 22,000 researchers who call Tsukuba Science City their home.
Tsukuba Science City and its Influence on the Economy
Tsukuba Science City is located just outside of one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world. Tokyo is a magnet for everything from technology start ups to investors, but these assets were not always readily available to people outside of Tokyo. Once these large private and public organizations started to shift their operations outside of Tokyo, the investment dollars came with them. This could perhaps be seen as the most obvious and simplistic of the benefits that have come with the development of Tsukuba Science City. Large research companies making their way out to the hills beyond Tokyo meant that a lot of money was coming with them. The impact of this has been better schools, better roads and a more stable economy based on education and innovation.
Of course, these overall economic gains also include the thousands of people who are now employed in the area. There are thousands of researchers and educators working toward the technical mission of the city. However, there are thousands more employed in industries that have gotten a major boost from those research organizations. Everything from rental agencies to restaurants has seen a major increase in business since these research organizations came to town. In the decades since the science city started to really take off, employment has steadily risen throughout the local area.
The City and its Culture
Overall, the greatest impact that the Tsukuba Science City has had can be measured through less practical means. The cultural impact that Tsukuba and cities like it throughout Japan have on Japanese society is difficult to quantify. At best, they are a symbol of the country's dedication to forward-thinking innovation into the 21st century. While other countries are falling behind in math and science, Japan is erecting entire cities in honor of the importance of these subjects. This alone is enough to inspire pride among the Japanese, and it places Tsukuba Science City among only a few other cities of its kind throughout the world.