Noriaki Hirao, CEO of Planetway, has been appointed as the CDO of Awara City, Fukui Prefecture

Promoting digital city planning to realize "Smart City Awara, a town where people can live comfortably and experience happiness.


It is our pleasure to inform you that Noriaki Hirao, CEO of Planetway Corporation (Headquarters: San Jose, California, USA, hereinafter referred to as Planetway) has been appointed as the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) of Awara City, Fukui Prefecture, Japan.

Background of the appointment

Awara City aims to create a highly convenient and livable city by promoting DX in the four areas of daily life, industry, education, and administration under the basic principle of "Smart City Awara, a city where life is easy and happiness can be felt" in order to improve the convenience of citizen services and simplify administrative procedures through the use of ICT and other technologies.

Since FY2022, various digital policies have been implemented, including the establishment of the "Smartphone/Tablet Yorozu Sodanshitsu (Consultation Center)," human resource development through the "appointment of DX promoters using the staff hand-raising method," as well as projects to promote digital local currency using "HapiCoin," cashless payment and electronic circular boards for community associations.

On the other hand, further digital efforts will be needed to solve local issues that are changing day by day, such as the declining population, falling birthrate, aging population, and increasing tourist satisfaction in light of the new Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) extension.

We are a certified technology partner of X-Road [1], the data collaboration platform of Estonia, known as one of the world's leading e-state, and have expertise in the country's digital policies, with more than 99% of government services converted to electronic.

With Noriaki, a native of Awara City, assuming the position of CDO, we will promote the development of a digitally-enabled city by improving the digital literacy of its citizens and utilizing a data collaboration infrastructure to realize Awara City's goal of becoming "Smart City Awara, a city where people can live comfortably and experience happiness.


Left: Noriaki Hirao, President of the Company, Right: Mr. Mori, Mayor of Awara City

How to proceed in the future

  • Projects conducted in collaboration with Planetway and Awara City
  • Suggestions and advice on city DX-related policies Proposals for the city's smart city promotion policies utilizing data collaboration infrastructure, etc., and other DX promotion related matters
  • Lectures and study sessions for staff and citizens (FY2024 project) Lectures and study sessions for staff and citizens on digital policies for the future
  • Implementation of Entrepreneurship Development Program (FY2024 project) Noriaki as an instructor to develop more start-up companies from the city.
  • Our business with Awara City as a field
  • Suggestions and advice on city DX-related policies Awara City will be the field for the " Development and operation of a “data marketplace that actualizes a new imagining of the concept of basic income" adopted for the FY2023 Kyoto Economic Gardening Business Support and Strengthening Project.

Press release on this project:

Comment from Hirao Noriaki, CEO/Founder of Planetway Corporation

My name is Noriaki Hirao, and I have been appointed CDO (Chief Digital Officer) of Awara City, Fukui Prefecture, the starting point of the most remarkable economic event in Japan, the opening of the Shinkansen bullet train service. I understand the local goodness from the outside and the inside, which I can see because I grew up in Awara and have since lived in various cities, including Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. After assuming the position of CDO, I will do my utmost to contribute to the growth of Awara City by leveraging the power of digital technology, including e-government solutions originating in Europe, and to spread the name of "AWARA" around the world.

About Awara City

Awara City, Fukui Prefecture, was created on March 1, 2004 through the merger of Awara Town and Kanazu Town, and is located in the northernmost part of Fukui Prefecture. The area is blessed with a diverse and rich natural environment, including rice paddy fields north of the Kuzuryu River, hilly areas where vegetable and fruit tree production flourishes, mountain villages and neighbouring agricultural、forest、etc. areas, the Sea of Japan coastline designated as Echizen-Kaga Kaigan National Park and Lake Kitagata, the third largest lake in Fukui Prefecture, and Awara Hot Springs with a 140-year history. Ahead of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Fukui/Tsuruga opening on March 16, 2024, a bustling facility called "AFLARE" opened at Awara Onsen Station on March 19, 2023.


About Planetway

Planetway, startup company that has developed "PlanetCross" and “PlanetID” an extension of Estonia's data sharing platform "X-Road" and Estonia's national Digital ID platform which allows individuals to be granted IDs, authenticate, and provide electronic signature according to and with the same identity verification level as Estonia's national number-identification system. Planetway is certified as X-ROAD Technology Partners – Silver. Our mission "For the Human-centric and Secure Planet" is based on our philosophy that personal data ownership rights are held by individuals and not by companies or organizations and therefore aim to promote the idea of disclosure/utilization of personal information based on ‘consent or denial as per an individual's own judgment’. In 2022, Planetway was selected as “Top Japanese Startup 2022 as Editor’s Choice” by the US startup magazine “STARTUPCITY”.

Corporate Site: X-Road Technology Partners:

About the founder

Born in Awara City in 1983, he graduated from California State University, Northridge, USA. After working for Softbank and Super Silicon Technologies, a Tohoku University venture, he founded Planetway in 2015. Operating domestically and internationally as one of only two companies in Asia certified to develop systems utilizing Estonia's X-ROAD e-government infrastructure technology.

※Company names and product names mentioned in this document are trademarked or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

[1] Estonia, widely known as a digital nation, has more than 1,000 databases among ministries and government agencies linked by a data access platform called "X-Road," that allows most administrative services to be performed online. As of July 2023, "X-Road" infrastructure has expanded internationally and is used in 21 countries around the world including Germany, Finland, and Japan.

Contact details:

Planetway Corporation PR


PR Contact

Planetway Corporation
Public Relations Team
TEL: +81-3-6897-9419