Hokkaido, the northernmost and second-largest island in Japan, is a land of magnificent natural environment and breathtaking landscapes. Full of potential for diverse socio-economic activities, the island has attracted many people with the frontier spirit throughout its one-and-a-half century history of development. Now Hokkaido plays a role of Japan’s largest food-producing region and a major tourist destination. In the 21st century, among mounting international concern of global environmental issues, Hokkaido should be the world’s leading region of sustainability, where diverse people live in harmony with the environment and enjoy self-realization. To establish such a region that contributes to a brighter future of the country, Japan’s national government formulates the Hokkaido Comprehensive Development Plan, a national program to realize the region’s full potential. Based on the Plan, the national and local governments take a wide range of measures: to develop infrastructure such as roads, ports, and airports; to prevent flood; to foster agriculture and tourism; to embark on pioneering projects to address environmental and energy issues; and to establish comfortable living environments in snowy, cold weather.
Since the late 19th century, the national government has carried out the development of Hokkaido consistently and systematically, to let the region contribute to the stability and the development of the whole country. Since the Hokkaido Development Commission was established in 1869, the government has introduced a variety of technologies from the Western countries, reclaimed a vast wilderness of the island, and systematically built cities and villages, in accordance with the national goals of the development such as promoting agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining, and manufacturing.
The Hokkaido Development Act, enacted in 1950, requires that the Hokkaido Development policy contribute to addressing challenges for the country, and the Act provides a different policy scheme for Hokkaido than that for the other regions of the country, including the Hokkaido Comprehensive Development Plan (HCDP). Since then six plans were formulated under the Act successively, each of which contributed to addressing national challenges at different times through utilizing the region’s vast land and rich resources; the challenges were, for example, such as Japan’s economic revival and an increase in food production, the relocation of people and industries, and the formation of a multipolar structure of the national land.
The Hokkaido Development policy must pay greater attention to challenges for Japan now in the 21st century, and the roles of the policy in the country’s tackling with the challenges. Particularly, the Hokkaido Development policy today should focus on creating vital and competitive regional economies, through utilizing unrivaled resources in Hokkaido and through adapting to changing surroundings with globalization, environmental and energy problems, and a declining and aging population. To meet these challenges the government made the 7th term Plan “-Leading the Era of the Global Environment- The New Hokkaido Comprehensive Development Plan” on July 4, 2008.
The first pioneers came to Hokkaido in 1869 and, except for a brief period when there were three prefectures and one bureau, development continued until the end of the Second World War under a unified organizational system.
・ 1869: The new Meiji government established the Hokkaido Development Commission
・ 1882: The Hokkaido Development Commission was disbanded and three prefectures, Hakodate, Sapporo and Nemuro were established
・ 1883: The Department of Agriculture and Commerce established the Hokkaido Project Management Bureau
・ 1886: The three prefectures and the Hokkaido Project Management Bureau were disbanded and the Hokkaido Government (as a state organization) was established
After the war (WWII), along with the enactment of the Hokkaido Development Act, the Hokkaido Development Agency, the Hokkaido Development Bureau and the Hokkaido Development Finance Public Corporation were set up and once again the development of Hokkaido was promoted under a unique system.
・ 1947: By action of the Local Autonomy Act, the Hokkaido Government was abolished and Hokkaido (as a regional entity) was established
・ 1950: The Hokkaido Development Act was passed and the Hokkaido Development Agency was established
・ 1951: The Hokkaido Development Bureau was established in Sapporo
・ 1956: The Hokkaido Development Finance Public Corporation was established (In the following year, 1957, this was reorganized as the Hokkaido-Tohoku Development Finance Public Corporation)
・ 1999: The Development Bank of Japan was established (a merger with the Hokkaido-Tohoku Development Finance Public Corporation)
After that, connected with the reorganization of government ministry, the Hokkaido Development Agency was transferred to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism which took over its duties and administrative functions.
・ January 2001: The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was established.
Based on the Hokkaido Development Act, the Hokkaido Development is promoted by the national government following the characteristics of the region.
The administrative structure of the Hokkaido Development has the following characteristics.
 Hokkaido Bureau in charge of the Hokkaido Development policy was established in the main office of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which in turn created the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau, a local branch to conduct the Hokkaido Development projects.
⇒Hokkaido Development is promoted by the special organizations of the Hokkaido Bureau and the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau to conform to actual local conditions.
 For closer cooperation and collaboration the Hokkaido Bureau plays a roll as a coordinator between relevant ministries and bureaus.
⇒Integrated administration is ensured, consistently from the establishment of the Hokkaido Comprehensive Development Plan to the implementation of projects based on the Plan.
 The Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau, besides instigating public works projects of the government as those conducted by other district Regional Development Bureaus and Regional Agricultural Administration Offices, undertook administering grants, urban and housing administration, and the advancement of construction industry.
⇒The Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau comprehensively carries out public works projects of the government, and those and subsidized projects are promoted as one.