BECAMEX TOKYU’s Executive Director On The Township Development Of Binh Duong New City | Vietcetera
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Jun 21, 2024
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BECAMEX TOKYU’s Executive Director On The Township Development Of Binh Duong New City

Leo Nishimura is the Executive Director of BECAMEX TOKYU. In his interview with Vietcetera, Leo has shown a strong passion for his work and the true spirit of "Always NEW!"
BECAMEX TOKYU’s Executive Director On The Township Development Of Binh Duong New City

Leo Nishimura - Executive Director of BECAMEX TOKYU. | Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

Leo Nishimura is the Executive Director of BECAMEX TOKYU, a joint venture between Japan's TOKYU CORPORATION and Vietnam's Becamex IDC Corp., established in 2012. With 18 years of experience at TOKYU CORPORATION in Japan, he brings extensive expertise to his current role in Vietnam, where he has been working on the township development of Binh Duong New City (BDNC) for the past four years.

On a sunny Monday, after a one-hour drive to BDNC, we get to meet Leo in his office, dressed comfortably in his BDNC t-shirt. During the talk, Leo showed a strong passion for his work and a spirit of always striving for something new - the spirit that BDNC embodies itself.

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Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

As the Executive Director and a citizen of BDNC, what do you like most about the city?

After the COVID-19 situation, the number of residents and tenants here increased significantly. Now, there is a diverse range of restaurants serving not only authentic pho but also cuisines from around the world. I can't list all the names here but to drop you some hints, there are Starbucks, Pizza 4P's, Belgo (my favorite), and many more.

It's not just about the food. With a new shopping center that opened last July, I have numerous places to explore, from checking out the latest products and visiting new shops to finding the best spots for lunch or dinner.

Generally speaking, culinary experience is the best part of living here. I can enjoy a variety of cuisines under one roof, making each day more exciting. This is why I've been working hard to bring more F&B tenants to Binh Duong New City. I want the citizens here to enjoy the same excitement and quality of life that I do.

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Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

How are Japanese ethos and know-how incorporated into Binh Duong New City planning?

Let me start with a brief history of TOKYU CORPORATION. We are a Japanese railway company operating trains in the Greater Tokyo Area, managing around 100 stations. Alongside our railway operations, we have over 100 years of experience in township development in Japan. This extensive background gives us a robust system and expertise in developing sustainable and efficient urban areas.

When Becamex was searching for a partnership with a foreign company experienced in township development to build a new city, TOKYU CORPORATION was a natural fit. We brought our know-how and experience to the Binh Duong New City (BDNC) project, integrating our signature approach known as TOD - transit-oriented development.

A prime example of this is the KAZE bus system, which we introduced in 2014. The KAZE bus system encourages the use of public transportation, promoting an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to private vehicles. .

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Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

It's been 10 years since KAZE bus was first introduced. Have you noticed any differences in people mindset about using public transportation?

Currently, around 1,100 passengers use the KAZE bus system daily, and this number is steadily increasing. More people are choosing to leave their motorbikes at home, finding the bus system convenient and reliable. The bus routes are well-planned, and the schedule is punctual, reflecting the Japanese system we are proud of.

While we can't convert 100% of the population to bus users, we are continually looking for ways to increase ridership. One challenge is the reluctance of some people to walk to and from bus stops, even if the walk just takes one minute.

To address this, we are planning to introduce a shared mobility system. This would allow people to travel from their homes to the bus stop and from the bus stop to their final destination using micro-mobility options.

What technology solutions are being employed to ensure sustainability in BDNC, particularly in terms of energy, water and waste management?

In BDNC, several innovative technology solutions are being implemented to ensure sustainability. A prime example is the Hikari Expansion, which features an edible landscape system. This unique concept involves planting fruits, vegetables, and herbs as part of the landscape.

Restaurants in the Hikari area contribute to this system by composting food waste. The compost room, equipped with black soldier flies, breaks down the food waste into fertilizer, which is then used to nourish the plants. This creates a circular ecosystem where the produce grown is reused by the restaurants, promoting sustainability and reducing waste.

Moreover, these product from the compost system will also be used for the community gardens, where our resident can do gardening, giving them a natural feeling in the middle of a bustling city.

These sustainable initiatives in Hikari are not profitable but can help on more general ambitions. For example, we offer educational tours for children, allowing them to learn about composting and sustainability firsthand.

This hands-on experience is unique in Vietnam and helps instill a mindset of environmental responsibility from a young age, which contributes back to the development of Binh Duong New City where the sustainable development is one of key factors.

Beyond waste management, we are also investing in renewable energy solutions. Solar panels are being installed on rooftops to harness solar energy. Furthermore, the spaces of MIDORI PARK and Hikari are designed to feature 56% green space, with a variety of plants that change with the seasons, mimicking the four seasons of Japan.

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Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

Are there any activities held to engage everyone, regardless of their nationalities?

We host monthly cultural events and festivals, celebrating Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures and introducing residents to various traditions and cuisines. During major holidays such as Christmas, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Tet, we organize inclusive events that bring together diverse cultural elements, allowing everyone to celebrate together.

For instance, on International Children's Day (June 1), we plan events where families from all nationalities can participate in activities like marathons, games, and food fairs, transcending language barriers and fostering community spirit.

Our planning team is dedicated to creating fresh and engaging events every month, ensuring there is always something new and exciting for residents to enjoy. By providing a mix of cultural experiences and tailored amenities, we aim to create a welcoming and dynamic environment that meets the needs of our diverse population, making BDNC a model for inclusive urban living.

Can you discuss the features that are being developed to make the residential areas in Binh Duong New City attractive to a diverse population?

In Binh Duong New City (BDNC), we have developed lots of residential units, with half of the residents being foreigners, notably from China, Korea, and Japan.

Recognizing that our residents come from different cultural backgrounds with unique customs, lifestyles, and needs, we have created a variety of amenities and services to cater to these diverse demands.

For example, we have a dedicated area known as "Chinese Town," hosting around 50 restaurants offering Chinese cuisine. This area has become a hotspot, particularly for Chinese workers and executives from the nearby industrial parks.

There are numerous Korean shops and Japanese restaurants that cater not only to the Japanese population but also to other nationalities who enjoy Japanese cuisine. As a Japanese developer, we have leveraged our existing relationships to bring in well-known Japanese brands like MUJI, Uniqlo and AEON, making it easier to attract these tenants and provide familiar shopping options for our residents.

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Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

What differentiates BDNC from other cities in Vietnam?

BDNC aims to stand out from other developments in Vietnam and globally by creating a unique identity. We envision it as a sustainable, smart, and entertaining city, highlighting its distinctiveness.

In fact, BDNC or Binh Duong Smart City has been honored by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) as the most outstanding Intelligent Community of the year 2023 (Top 1 ICF).

While we fully acknowledge that we are not yet leaders in technology, we strive to be at the forefront of innovation in Vietnam. Our goal is to become a hub for proof-of-concept (PoC) projects, inviting startups to test and refine their technologies here. Successful projects can then be scaled and exported both within Vietnam and internationally.

Our innovation ecosystem includes the Eastern International University (EIU), which is currently home to the EIU Fablab, and our partnership with Block 71, a technology ecosystem builder and global connector originally from Singapore. These centers attract numerous startups, enabling them to trial new technologies, services, and software in BDNC.

An iconic example is our collaboration with Hanoi-based Phenikaa corporation to launch the first Proof-of-Concept for the autonomous vehicle two years ago. This was the first time ever a driverless vehicle is officially run on a public street in Vietnam.

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Source: Bobby Vu for Vietcetera

Are there any upcoming projects or expansions that BECAMEX TOKYU is excited about?

Absolutely, the township development of BDNC is only 20-30% through, meaning we have decades of growth ahead. We have vast areas of land still to be developed, including over 100,000 square meters earmarked for commercial use.

The current shopping center SORA gardens SC is 20,000 square meters, and we have plans to develop a commercial space five times that size. To support this, we are increasing residential developments to create a balanced market for these new commercial facilities. So we are taking step by step.

We have already built three condominiums, with the fourth set to be completed this year. We also just started construction on our most luxurious condominium project, MIDORI PARK The TEN, and will soon release another residential project.

We acknowledge that we are not yet the world's best smart city, but we have robust infrastructure, including extensive sensors for monitoring. Our focus now is on developing software to analyze this data and create valuable services. By integrating top-tier technologies like autonomous vehicles and shared mobility systems, we aim to enhance the quality of life for our residents, making BDNC a leader in smart city innovation in Vietnam.