Japan’s low-harm parking minimums

When you use this in your parking change-making efforts, please give credit to Parking Reform Atlas and/or its sources.

 

Do you see an error? Have a comment? There is a feedback form here

Brief summary of this reform

Japanese cities (such as Tokyo) have parking requirements (minimums) that are less harmful than in most countries. They are set at low levels even when they apply in full. Furthermore, they exempt small buildings and phase in only gradually with floor area beyond the threshold (of 1500 to 2000 square metres). This means that parking minimums are not an obstacle to the development or redevelopment of small buildings on small sites in Japan.

Why should you care?

Japanese parking minimums are less harmful than most. They are not an obstacle to infill development.

In combination with other policies, they have resulted in most neighbourhoods having much parking that is open to the public and that is provided on a commercial basis at market prices.

You may think that this 'light' approach to parking minimums is possible in Japan only because of excellent public transport and other policies that keep car ownership low. That may be so of the large cities. However, the same kind of parking requirements apply across the country, even in towns and small cities where car ownership rates are high (comparable to or higher than the rates seen across western Europe).

Country

Japan

Vehicle type

cars

State/province

Tokyo Prefecture (Tokyo-to)

Key actor type

National

Jurisdiction

National (although this case focuses on Tokyo Prefecture)

Primary motivation

orderly parking (usually for wider benefits too)

Agencies involved

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism [need to check this]

Is it a model or a warning?

useful model

Reform type

Main parking category

Main parking paradigm shift

minimums harm reduction

Off-street various

Towards park-once-and-walk AND away from excessive supply

Adaptive Parking thrust

Implementation status

Year adopted

R: Relax about parking supply and stop boosting it

implemented

1962

Goals of the reform

The goals of parking minimums in Japan are conventional (similar to those in other countries). However, their levels have not been increased for many decades. The on-site parking with buildings is apparently not expected to meet the full demand for parking but merely to contribute towards the neighbourhood parking demand. This is unusual and may be the result of other parking policies which have prevented perceived parking shortages from emerging. Most prominent among these policies are a ban on most on-street parking (and a total ban on overnight on-street parking) and the proof-of-parking law.

Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)

Parking minimums emerged for familiar reasons (in the 1950s apparently). It would be great to learn why the specific characteristics of the minimums were chosen.

Detailed description of the reform

Japanese cities (such as Tokyo) have parking requirements (minimums) that are less harmful than in most countries and this has been the case since the 1950s.

They are set at low levels even when they apply in full. The highest requirements are 1 space per 200 sq.m for department stores (and similar) in 'Car park improvement districts'. This is very low compared with many other countries.

Furthermore, they exempt small buildings and phase in only gradually with floor area beyond the threshold (of 1500 to 2000 square metres).

The list of land-uses for the purpose of parking minimums is extremely simple, with only two categories: (i) specific uses (theater, cinema, music hall, viewing field, broadcast studio hall, assembly hall, exhibition, wedding hall, funeral hall, inn, hotel, restaurant, restaurants, cabarets, cafes, nightclubs, bars, dance hall, playground, bowling alley, gymnasium, other department stores, offices, hospitals, wholesale markets, warehouses or factories, or places with two or more of the above functions); and (ii) non-specific uses (others).

Results or impacts

These characteristics mean that parking minimums are not an obstacle to the development or redevelopment of small buildings on small sites in Japan.

They have been compatible with the emergence of commercial priced parking (for visitor parking, employee parking and residential parking) in most neighbourhoods of most cities. This is also the result of the absence of on-street parking, and the proof-of-parking rule.

A large proportion of parking is open to the public (even if privately owned and operated).

Japanese cities seem to have surprisingly market-responsive parking. Parking prices vary in rough proportion to real-estate values.

Sources and acknowledgements

"Learn from Japan!" episode of Reinventing Parking https://www.reinventingparking.org/2019/12/learn-from-japan.html

Barter, P.A. (2011) Parking Policy in Asian Cities. Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila. Available in hard copy or on-line via https://www.adb.org/publications/parking-policy-asian-cities. 98 pages. ISBN: 978-92-9092-241-4 (print), 978-92-9092-352-7 (web).

The following documents in Japanese were consulted in 2009 to understand Tokyo parking regulations for the study above (Barter, 2011):

Regulations for parking to accompany large-scale buildings, Bureau of Urban Development, Tokyo Metropolitan Government. www.toshiseibi.metro.tokyo.jp/kenchiku/parking/kn_k12.htm

Description of Tokyo’s parking ordinance, with worked examples. www.archi-navi.com/archinavitool/a-kikaku-v1/setumei/tokyo-park.pdf

Case studies of rules under the ordinance in Tokyo Parking. www.shibuya-kyogikai.jp/pdf/5th/2.pdf

Yokohama parking requirement details. www.city.yokohama.jp/me/toshi/toshiko/pressrelease/h19/07041700/pdf/osirase.pdf

Regulations regarding parking facilities in buildings (Kagoshima). www.city.kagoshima.lg.jp/_1010/shimin/1kurashi/1-9tyusyajo/0000534.html

Regulations regarding parking facilities in buildings (Okayama). www.city.okayama.jp/toshi/tosai/tyuusyahuchi_gaiyou.htm

Painted Greek Island

Last updated: 

19 Mar 2021