Fukuoka is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture, situated on the northern shore of the Japanese island of Kyushu. It is the most populous city on the island, followed by Kitakyushu. It is the largest city and metropolitan area west of Keihanshin. The city was designated on April 1, 1972, by government ordinance. Greater Fukuoka, with a population of 2.5 million people (2005 census), is part of the heavily industrialized Fukuoka–Kitakyushu zone.
As of 2015, Fukuoka is Japan's sixth largest city, having passed the population of Kobe. In July 2011, Fukuoka surpassed the population of Kyoto. Since the founding of Kyoto in 794, this marks the first time that a city west of the Kinki region has a larger population than Kyoto. In ancient times, however, the area near Fukuoka, the Chikushi region, was thought by some historians to have possibly been even more influential than the Yamato region.
Hakata Bay was the site of a storm—what the Japanese called a kamikaze (“divine wind”)—in 1281 that scattered and sank a large fleet of invading Mongols and thus saved Japan from foreign occupation.
An ancient port, Fukuoka is now a regional commercial, industrial, administrative, and cultural centre. The city contains an active fishing port and has extensive rail and road connections with Kitakyūshū and with cities along the western side of Kyushu, including a branch of the Shinkansen (bullet train). Fukuoka is the seat of Kyushu University (1911). Hakata ningyo (“dolls”), elaborately costumed ceramic figurines found in most Japanese homes, are made in the city.
Data and Facts
- Between 2010 and 2015, Fukuoka’s population increased by 5.1 percent — more than any other cities in Japan
- Fukuoka owes its survival to kamikaze. In 1274, a Mongol fleet attacked. They made it as far as Hakata Bay before a typhoon wrecked their ships
- The modern city was formed on April 1, 1889, with the merger of the former cities of Hakata and Fukuoka
- With 4.2 restaurants for every 1,000 people, Fukuoka is second only to Tokyo for the highest concentration of restaurants in Japan
- The city has the highest concentration of beauty salons of any Japanese metropolis: 8.38 for every 10,000 female residents
- Since March 2015, Fukuoka is home to the world’s first hydrogen refueling station powered by sewage
Japan's local government system is in accordance with a provision of the Japanese Constitution in that prefectures and municipalities administer local affairs. For example, municipalities are focused on the operation of public services such as education, social welfare, water and sewage services, while prefectural responsibilities are more comprehensive including affairs which control multiple municipalities. Fukuoka City, on the other hand, is authorized to perform some of the prefectural responsibilities.
This is because a city with a population of over 500,000 is entitled to greater authority than other municipalities and is designated as such by a government ordinance. Local public entities have a decision making assembly and a head of an executive organization. The head's role is to execute what has been decided by the assembly through his/her guidance and supervision over government employees.Assembly members and the head are both elected, and better governance is ensured through separation of powers, checks and balances, and cooperation.
Citizens 20 years and older have a right to vote in the City Council elections. Citizens 25 years and older are eligible to run for a council.There are 7 constituencies for the City Council which fall on 7 administrative wards of the Fukuoka City. Each constituency has a quota.
Otherwise they are allowed to directly appeal to the City Council. Once the petition is filed, a discussion at a council committee will follow. A petition adopted by the committee will be passed to the relevant department including the Mayor and will be put into practice. City Council sessions are in principle open to the public. Committee meetings may be observed with permission from the committee chairperson.
Fukuoka is the economic center of the Kyushu region, with an economy largely focused on the service sector. It is also the largest startup city in Japan, and is the only economic zone for startups.[ They have various services for startups like startup visa, tax reduction, and free business consultations. Fukuoka has the highest business-opening rate in Japan. Large companies headquartered in the city include Iwataya and Kyushu Electric Power. Fukuoka is also the home of many small firms playing a supportive role in the logistics, IT, and high-tech manufacturing sectors. Most of the region's heavy manufacturing takes place in the nearby city of Kitakyushu.The GDP in Greater Fukuoka, Fukuoka Metropolitan Employment Area, was US$101.6 billion in 2010. Fukuoka is the primary economic center of the Fukuoka-Kitakyushu metropolitan area, which is the 4th largest economy in Japan. As of 2014, the area's PPP-adjusted GDP is estimated to be larger than those of metropolitan areas such as Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Lima, Vienna, Barcelona and Rome.
Several regional broadcasters are based in the city, including Fukuoka Broadcasting Corporation, Kyushu Asahi Broadcasting, Love FM, RKB Mainichi Broadcasting, and Television Nishinippon Corporation. The port of Hakata and Fukuoka Airport also make the city a key regional transportation hub. Fukuoka houses the headquarters of Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) and Nishi-Nippon Railroad. Air Next, a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways, is headquartered in Hakata-ku; prior to its dissolution, Harlequin Air was also headquartered in Hakata-ku.Fukuoka has its own stock exchange, founded in 1949. It is one of six in Japan.Fukuoka is one of the more affordable cities in Japan. Compared to New York City, rents are ~80% lower, restaurants are ~50% cheaper, and groceries are ~5% more expensive.
The city already has the highest rate of new startups in Japan (7 percent) and, by offering incentives that include Japan’s first and only Startup Visa for foreign entrepreneurs, it hopes to attract even more. So far, made-in-Fukuoka ventures include Ikkai, a “task marketplace” where students sell their services, and anect, developer of a flea market app.
The city of Fukuoka, with a population of 1.57 million, boasts the largest economy in the Kyushu region. In addition to enjoying an economic boom, the city has also been designated by the national government as a National Strategic Special Zone for Global Startups and Job Creation.For certain startups within the special zone, the corporate tax rates are lowered and visa requirements relaxed. Together with support from Fukuoka’s startup accelerator Fukuoka Growth Next, the city has attracted outstanding human resources from both around Japan and overseas, and is the origin of many unique enterprises. Fukuoka is even regarded by some as Japan’s most startup-friendly city. Experiments on drones and hydrogen energy are conducted within the city, and the implementation of technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also making headway.
Fukuoka’s airport, harbor, and main station are concentrated in a 2.5km (1.6mi) radius, creating a compact urban structure. The city is also surrounded by a rich natural environment of ocean and mountains, and its striking urban vitality exists in harmony with that environment.
The waves of innovation are surging in the financial sector as well, and the world is keeping a close watch on future developments, lending great significance to Fukuoka’s hosting of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting. As the host city, Fukuoka is determined to make the meeting a success.
Fukuoka City established the popular Startup Cafe to help local entrepreneurs get their companies up and running. This space acts as a hub for entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas while getting advice from the Cafe’s expert staff. The Startup Cafe has always been a great way for both local and foreign entrepreneurs to get the help they need, but the city thought that the growing community could use more tailored resources. This initiative was sparked when Fukuoka City officials began to notice the increasing need for fluent English support, and they saw that the requests for consultations by startup founders from abroad were growing. To accommodate these foreign founders, the city developed the Global Startup Center . The GSC is a place that provides English speakers full access to the resources and information they need. It is also geographically close to markets in China's coastal regions and Korea. Because of its population concentration and highly sensitive consumers, the city is attracting attention as a location for test marketing prior to the decision on nationwide sales of new products or business expansion. Motivated by the volume of business and consumption in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi area, wholesale and B2B services comprise a large portion and the supportive functions for the industries in the whole Kyushu are concentrated here.
Fukuoka City has long been a popular choice among major foreign companies as the location for their Kyushu/West Japan regional headquarters. In recent years, the city has been increasingly chosen as a toehold by the East Asian companies in East Asian countries such as China and Korea entering into the Japanese market. For more information on foreign companies entering Fukuoka City.
Top talent is easy to find in Fukuoka because of the city’s numerous universities and R&D centers. Third only to Kyoto and Tokyo, Fukuoka has a plethora of higher education options that attract students from around the world. Major companies have clearly caught on, and have established their research and development center in the city to attract new graduates and experienced professionals.
Fukuoka is a unique melding of bustling city life, pristine parks, sandy beaches, traditional Japanese culture, and modern living all flowing seamlessly together. Fukuoka’s average weekday commute time is just over 30minutes. Businesses love it here, and In a recent poll business people chose Fukuoka as the top most livable city in Japan. The world agrees, and Monocle even rated Fukuoka the world’s 7th most livable city in 2016.
Kyushu, a major island that lies in the southwest part of Japan, is noted for its great scenic beauty. The area now known as Fukuoka Prefecture, which has flourished as the focus of Kyushu since ancient times, is located exactly midway between Tokyo and Shanghai . Fukuoka Prefecture has two international airports. The expansive aviation network here operates approximately 300 international flights weekly to major cities in Asia and approximately 370 domestic flights daily to major Japanese cities, making Fukuoka an ideal location for business ventures targeting the Japanese and Asian markets.
Fukuoka is equipped with an excellent motor expressway system that links the prefecture to Greater Tokyo, Kansai and almost all of the other regions of Japan. Construction is advancing on a new expressway in the Kita-Kyushu region , a move also indicative of the push to build up an even more extensive business base.Fukuoka Airport, one of the most convenient airports in the world, lies a mere 10 minutes from the center of Fukuoka City, offering perhaps the smoothest access of any airport in Japan. Kita-Kyushu Airport, a facility built over the ocean, is located at the hub of an area distinguished by a heavy concentration of auto industry operations. Both Hakata Port and the Kita-Kyushu Port operate about 35 regular international container routes each. They offer comfortable access while excelling as key international distribution bases and ocean gateways to Western Japan. The Shinkansen bullet train line links Fukuoka to Tokyo in 5 hours, to Nagoya in 3.5 hours and to Osaka in 2.5 hours. The Kyushu Shinkansen fully opened in March 2011.
Fukuoka Waterfront area (Chuo port and Hakata port) has currently been redeveloped by Fukuoka city. As the number of cruise ships from Asia or MICE events have increased recently, Fukuoka Waterfront area becomes a top class exchange hub in Japan for inbound and outbound visitors. Three suitable logistic centers in the northern part of Kyushu are indicated as below.
1.Fukuoka IC area connecting Kyushu Expressway and Fukuoka
2.Hakata Port area including a port development zone in Island City
3.Tosu JCT area located at the crossing of Kyushu Expressway, Nagasaki Expressway and Oita Expressway
Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea in Japan’s far-west corner, Fukuoka is a city trying to reinvent itself. In a land long dominated by mega-conglomerates and the inexorable pull of Tokyo, the country’s fastest growing urban centre wants to become Japan’s answer to Silicon Valley.
Despite the country’s reputation for hi-tech wizardry, Japan’s start-up scene remains surprisingly stunted. The world’s third largest economy has only one «unicorn» – a private company valued at over $1bn – compared to the United States’ 127 and China’s 78.
Fukuoka’s charismatic young mayor is determined to change that, and he’s convinced the city has the ingredients to replicate the success of the US’s west coast innovation hubs. In 2011 he declared Fukuoka would become Japan’s start-up city, and since then it’s risen to the top of the country’s business creation league tables.
Whether it can truly rival the capital remains to be seen as funding and talent continues to concentrate in Tokyo, but the city’s leaders have a convincing pitch. A tight-knit start-up community, a young workforce and an affordable city that promises that elusive goal of a work-life balance – something they hope will appeal to a new generation of entrepreneurs keen to avoid the Tokyo rat race.
Shortly after being elected as the city’s youngest ever mayor in 2010, former TV presenter Sōichirō Takashima, 44, visited Seattle and was struck by the similarities to his hometown. Both are compact coastal cities surrounded by nature, with well-developed transport infrastructure and plentiful human resources, he says. In Seattle those ingredients support titans like Amazon and Microsoft, as well as a thriving start-up ecosystem. Takashima believes Fukuoka can replicate that success and help drag the Japanese economy out of a rut it’s been in since the early 1990s.
Since then he’s been busy. In 2014 the central government granted his request to designate the city as a «national strategic special zone» for start-ups, which has allowed them to cut corporate taxes for new businesses and create a special visa for foreign entrepreneurs. It’s also allowed them to relax planning rules so they can redevelop the city centre and wireless regulations to create a faster and simpler licensing process for experiments and technology demonstrations aimed at the Internet of Things , which embeds sensors, communication and computing hardware into everyday objects.
Takashima has also been aggressively promoting the city at home and abroad, leading business delegations and signing cooperation deals with start-up hubs like San Francisco, Taipei and Helsinki which provide support and introductions for Fukuoka start-ups looking to expand abroad or foreign start-ups looking to enter Japan.
Back in Fukuoka, the government has renovated an old school in the central Tenjin business district to create Fukuoka Growth Next , a one-stop shop for budding entrepreneurs which opened in 2017. «Simply put, our mission is to raise future unicorns,» says Yasunari Tanaka, director-general of the FGN secretariat.
Facilities include discounted office space, a prototyping lab, a start-up cafe where consultants provide free business, legal and accounting advice, and the Global Startup Centre to help foreign founders set up in Fukuoka or local entrepreneurs expand abroad. There’s also a bar to lubricate the networking process and a regular schedule of talks, seminars and matching events to link start-ups with customers and investors.
The city’s re-branding has generated significant buzz in both the domestic and foreign press, but despite the positive coverage two key ingredients remain in short supply – talent and funding. There’s limited venture capital available in Fukuoka, says Pouplin, so when start-ups grow they generally have to head to the capital for investment and customers. «Fukuoka is a great starting place, but it's not a great growing place,» he says.
One of FGN’s most successful graduates is Skydisc, which uses artificial intelligence to help customers boost factory productivity and has been pegged as a «future unicorn» by financial newspaper The Nikkei. Overseas strategy officer Yoshihiko Suenaga is full of praise for the city government’s approach and says their time at FGN opened a lot of doors. «They gave us cheap rent and a lot of opportunities,» he says. «We actually met one of our partners as well as one of our big clients at a matching event there».
But he admits they are only staying in Fukuoka because it’s the founder’s hometown. Their operation is now split between Fukuoka and a Tokyo office that opened three years ago because most of their clients’ headquarters are located there. Talent was also a big driver – while it’s possible to find competent developers in Fukuoka, more advanced technical skills are concentrated in the capital. «AI-focused engineers are relatively difficult to find in places other than Tokyo,» he says.
In an attempt to coax this kind of talent to the city the government recently declared itself an «engineer-friendly city» and followed up with recruiting events in Tokyo. But even Fukuoka’s brightest find it hard to resist the pull of the capital, says Suenaga, who spent 15 years in Tokyo himself. He hails from neighbouring city Kitakyushu and only returned due to family reasons.
That’s not to say perceptions of Fukuoka aren’t changing in the capital. Shun Nagao, who runs the Tokyo office of global venture capital firm White Star Capital, says in the last two years there’s been a lot more buzz around the city thanks largely to the mayor’s efforts. It’s still seen as a relatively immature ecosystem though, he adds.
One major opportunity for the city, says Nagao, is its proximity to Asia, which could allow it to attract talent from abroad rather than going toe-to-toe with Tokyo. But in terms of attracting more funding, he thinks there needs to be some clear success stories or big valuations before investors commit serious resources to the city.
That’s something officials in Fukuoka recognise, but they’re also aware that laying the groundwork for that kind of success takes time. Their current target is to create one hundred start-ups worth 1 billion yen in the next five years, says Naokatsu Matono, director of the city’s start-up department. «To make a unicorn we believe first we need many start-ups,» he adds.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
As of November 2018, the city had an estimated population of 1,581,527 and a population density of 4,515.64 persons per km². The total area is 343.39 square kilometres . Fukuoka is Japan's youngest major city and has Japan's fastest growing population. Between December 2012 and December 2017, the proportion of foreign-born residents increased faster than any other major city in Japan, including Tokyo. Fukuoka was selected as one of Newsweek's 10 «Most Dynamic Cities» in its July 2006 issue. It was chosen for its central Asian location, increasing tourism and trade, and a large increase in volume at its sea and airport. Fukuoka has a diverse culture and a wide range of cultural attractions. In its July/August 2008 issue, Monocle selected Fukuoka as number 17 of the “Top 25 liveable cities”.
It was chosen for excellent shopping, outstanding food, good transport links, good museums, «a feeling of openness in its sea air», green spaces and because it is friendly, safe, clean and close to the rest of East Asia. The same survey in 2018 ranked Fukuoka at number 22.Fukuoka hosts more than 2 million foreign visitors annually, with the majority coming from neighboring South Korea, Taiwan and China. From the early 2010s Hakata became the beneficiary of significant growth in cruise ship tourism; particularly with visitors from China. After expansion and redevelopment of the Hakata Port international passenger ship terminal, the number of cruise ship port calls in 2016 is expected to exceed 400.Nearly ten thousand international students attend universities in or near the Fukuoka prefecture each year.