2019 年 16 巻 p. 34-44
The purpose of this study is to consider the role that Kominkan can play when a diversity of residents in mountainous regions move towards cooperative autonomy.
In this project, I begin with the perception that traditional autonomy in mountainous regions is based on subservient social relationships that are rooted in feudal customs. I then focus on the process of cooperative autonomy formation, in which people who have been on the periphery as well as those who have traditionally been at the center of community life take part in community development activities, after which I examine the role of Kominkan in this process.
The case study taken up was that of the Tobitari Kominkan in Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture, and the Kominkan activities that supported community organization improvement and increased resident participation. The Tobitari Kominkan has engaged in various efforts to bring together the wide diversity residents in the community in order to come to grips with lingering feudal relationships and to deal with the problems associated with depopulation, the increasing isolation of these areas as well as the divisions between old and new residents.
Three main conclusions were reached. First, the process of developing cooperative relationships for autonomous self-government involves the reconstruction of cooperative ties between those on the periphery of the community and their perspectives with long-time residents and their experience in which all parties participate equally to bring on community improvement. Second, the Kominkan plays the role of a trigger in empowering those on the community's periphery and in bringing together all residents into an organization, albeit one that in the past has been prone to splitting apart. Third, it becomes an important factor in developing the cooperative relationships that can mitigate such a split through its educational and cultural activities.