The paper addresses the role of indicators to promote transitions towards a more sustainable transportation future in Japan. Existing international literature suggests a potential key role for performance measurement and indicator systems to strengthen such policies. The research explores to what extent governance frameworks associated with ‘new public management’ reforms in Japan also provide an enhanced basis to promote sustainability within transportation. A framework is derived based on the assumption that the effectiveness of such frameworks in this regard depends on the way sustainability is represented, as well as how the framework is integrated with decision making processes. Japan is used as a case, because Japanese transport seems to perform well in certain aspects of ‘sustainability’, while Japanese transportation policy also faces significant management challenges. A range of governance measures have been adopted to assist in managing transport policy challenges, including the application of experimentation, monitoring and evaluation of plans, policies and institutions. The paper looks at two cases of policy management within Japanese transportation: The first is the performance evaluation framework for the road sector used by the Japanese Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The second is the so-called ‘Eco-model’ cities program, also undertaken by the MLIT, using the case of Toyama City for illustration. In each case the approach to performance measurement is outlined, the actual application is presented, and the results in terms of how the indicators contribute to promote sustainable transport will be reviewed. A finding is that indicators in both programs seem to have limited positive influence on sustainability, with the most and visible effects in the latter one. The institutional context seems important for the strength of influence.
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Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, 2012