Public participation using consensus building for land use planning in the United States and Japan

Makiko Takahashi Tanaka, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation is a comparative study of public participation programs initiated by local governments for land use planning in the United States and Japan. It focuses specifically on evaluating methods the governments used for consensus building among in an attempt to better understand how to make public participation using consensus building processes more successful in Japan. The study is based on the assumption that there are certain conditions, called "principles." which are indispensable to the success of public participation programs used in land use planning. The first objective of the study was to identify such principles through a literature review of consensus building in public policy development. The second objective was to analyze the degree to which those principles were reflected in specific American and Japanese planning initiatives, and then consider implications of that analysis to planning practices in each country respectively. Case study methodology was used to gather information about the different planning initiatives and conditional matrix methodology was used for the comparative analysis. The findings of this study have illustrated that principles of successful public participation developed from an American context can be usefully applied to Japanese practice. Further, the case study of Japanese planning practice showed weaknesses in five of the principles, leading to some conclusions about efforts to incorporate participatory practices in Japan: First, nongovernmental planning organizations need to be created and supported to help citizens influence and aid local governments in public policy development. Secondly, local governments need to develop their capacity to design inclusive processes that involve all stakeholders through representative participation. Thirdly, certain characteristics of Japanese planning systems negatively affect the education and empowerment of citizens to participate in and influence planning policy development, suggesting such characteristics are not favorable conditions for promoting participatory planning and cultivating Japanese civil society. Fourthly, successful participatory planning practices and conditions identified in the American case study should be disseminated more widely among planning professionals in the United States.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Cultural anthropology|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Tanaka, Makiko Takahashi, "Public participation using consensus building for land use planning in the United States and Japan" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3197743.