The coastal area of the Seto inland sea experienced rapid industrialization during the rapid economic growth era in the 1960s, leading to the deterioration of water quality and environmental issues reached a critical point. As such, water pollution regulations have become extremely strict, especially for reclamation projects. In the Kobe port area, five manmade islands (Port Island, Port Island 2nd Stage, 2 Rokko Islands and Kobe Airport) were constructed since 1960 to expand port and logistics functionalities. The islands were built in compliance with the strict environmental assessment requirements.
On Port Island, the western side consists of residential areas and a high-tech industrial cluster, while the east side is a port area with a container berth and other port logistics functions. The land-use planning provides for green buffer zones to avoid hindrance towards the residential areas.
On Rokko Island, the urban area is situated in the middle with surrounding areas having port functions. The urban area is separated from the port area with a large-scale greenbelt, while container transport is forbidden through the residential area. Rokko Island also includes a manmade lake that is off-limits to visitors so as to create a habitat for wild birds.
On Kobe Airport (2006), revetments made of loosely stacked stones were established around the island so that wide shoals reachable by sunlight were formed. This enabled the growth of algae and the establishment of a rich biodiversity on the site. The beach created in the western edge of the Kobe airport island is surrounded by rocks and sand creating a seawater lake. This functions as a large-scale water park for the citizens, with easy access and high recreational value.
Building further on sustainability and clean energy in particular, the port of Kobe plans to further expand its existing network of high-voltage onshore power supply points in the coming years. The port is further preparing to provide LNG bunkering and other cleaner energy options for vessels as from 2020. Hydrogen will be procured from Australia and further work will be implemented to establish a hydrogen supply chain system in the port.