The focus of the 41st Symposium of the Japan Association of Regional and Community Studies (JARCS) was the Grand Design of National Spatial Development and Regional Society.
The realities of regional societies in big cities, rural areas, and remote islands could refer to a “crisis,” according to the local people who do not possess the optimism of recognition, which makes it easy to talk about the reconstruction, creation, and potential of new life spheres. Optimism of will is required to rediscover the ongoing processes of life spheres in regional societies and their historical and social significance.
The symposium included various discussions to promote an understanding of regional societies and the lives therein, as well as their relationships to political and power structures, including those resulting from-national and geopolitical changes. The “choices” of local people are not always active ones; in many cases, they are forced by external matters. “Regional societies as life spheres” are spaces that guarantee that people can lead their lives with dignity. To grasp this concept, it is vital to consider the diversity of communities, the flow and storage of time, and the perspective(s) of “invisible habitants.”
This article aims to illuminate contradictions between a state rescaling strategy as seen in the Grand Design of National Spatial Development toward 2050 and current conditions in targeted areas. Primarily, the article highlights metropolitan areas and the living conditions of urban residents.
Through the strategic document, the Japanese government aspires to concentrate national resources in cities and metropolitan regions. In fact, since the late 1990s, many major Japanese metropolitan regions have expanded in terms of population; this trend is called re-urbanization.
We distributed questionnaire surveys to apartment residents in the central cities of six metropolitan regions—Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Fukuoka. The data analysis revealed that a sizable number of residents enjoys a high occupational status and income stratum. These people are blessed further with material and cultural richness. Though many singles and couples enjoy abundance in the consumption environment of central cities, most families with young children are hard-pressed for time because of balancing work with family life. Therefore, they have few time to enjoy the rich cultural environment of the central city. On the one hand, many singles and couples have little interaction with their neighbors; on the other hand, many families with children build and maintain good neighborly relations as a catalyst for nurturing children.
From the perspective of the geographical scalar debate, the state rescaling strategy—as seen in the Grand Design—has been developed considering inter-corporation and inter-urban economic competition on the global scale. However, the daily lives of urban residents, especially families with young children, are dependent on a neighborhood scale, not global scale. These scalar contradictions included in the state rescaling strategy might have worsened the living conditions of urban residents.
The general principle of the prior Comprehensive National Development Plan was “well- balanced national development.” However, the aim of the Grand Design of National Spatial Development toward 2050 announced in July 2014 was different. It advocated that fiscal resources should be given to local governments contributing to the nation. The subsequent effects on local governments are discussed in this paper through the case study of Okinawa.
Okinawa is a local government that had been contributing to the national defense. Approximately 70% of the U.S. military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa. As compensation for the burden that Okinawa has been bearing, the government of Japan implemented various promotional programs. However, since the relocation of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) to the Henoko district in Nago City became a serious issue for the central Japanese government and Okinawa Prefecture, promotional programs have been tied to acceptance of the FRF. The meaning of such programs changed from compensation for the burden of bearing U.S. bases to financial incentives for contributions. Promotion projects for Okinawa Prefecture and Nago City, which are opposed the relocation to Henoko, have decreased, whereas those for Henoko district, which is accepting relocation are increasing. As a result, opposition by inhabitants of Henoko to facility replacement has decreased, and they are forced to accept FRF, which would lead to the destruction of their life spheres. Hence, regional sociology has an obligation to analyze the process by which local communities lose their right of self-determination.
This study has two aims. On one hand, the future trend in national policies and related problems are cleared by Japan’s Grand Design of National Spatial Development toward 2050. Another consideration is how citizen activities are not confused by national policies. We can recognize the development-oriented trend from the last Grand Design. The national government is successful in exercising authority over local governments through the distribution of public investments and the introduction of “choice and concentration.” On the other hand, local governments depend on subsidies. Therefore, the system for governing can be described as a complicated relationship between rule and dependency.
Dependence on subsidies is also seen in certain citizen organizations that face obstructions to their independent activities from governments. One way to maintain independence (autonomy) in citizen activities may be for citizens to raise funds.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze human relationships in hilly and mountainous areas using a personal network approach. Two hypotheses were analyzed: a “shrinking network” hypothesis, that residents’ personal network would be reduced in size due to depopulation, and a “reorganizing network” hypothesis, that they would change their personal network structure to adapt to its reduced size.
The results contradicted the “shrinking network” hypothesis. Although isolated, those in hilly and mountainous regions kept their network size constant by geographically widening it to include friends living farther apart. This reorganization into a more diffuse network does not seem to be the “community liberation” discussed by Wellman in reference to urban areas. Rather, it is a reaction to changes in the residents’ environment such as decreased convenience.
Kendig et al. conducted a survey on personal networks of the elderly in Sydney in 1981. The purpose of this paper is to confirm whether their findings are still applicable to elderly women in Melbourne or not. For this purpose, I carried out a survey of elderly women aged between 65 and 79 in a local government area, an inner suburb of Melbourne, in 2005-6. The analysis of the data revealed the following four points: Firstly, the personal networks of elderly women consisted mainly of kinship relationships, followed by friendship relationships. They had most of their social relationships within Melbourne, and had maintained 72.6% of friendship relationships within 10 kilometres of
their residence. Secondly, though only 16.2% of elderly women lived with their child(ren), there were many elderly women whose child(ren) resided within 5 kilometres of their residence. Because of this, the elderly women who lived with their child(ren) and/or whose child(ren) resided within 5 kilometres of their residence amounted to 65.4%. Thirdly, elderly women who migrated from a non- English speaking country tended to live with their child(ren) and most of their children tended to reside within 5 kilometres of them. Therefore, such elderly women had many kinship relationships within 5 kilometres, and maintained few kinship relationships at a distance. Fourthly, relatives were a powerful source which provided elderly women with various kinds of social support, because their child(ren) tended to reside nearby. On balance, the “community saved” perspective is more consistent with the data in Melbourne than are either the“ lost” or the“ liberated” perspectives. Elderly women in Melbourne had a stronger tendency to live with their child(ren) than elderly people in Sydney and there was a stronger tendency for adult children to reside near their elderly parents among the former than among the latter.
This study explains the process of community formation through a shopping street union. I conducted a case study of the activities of a shopping street union. The data for the study were obtained through fieldwork and interviews conducted at the Sengen shopping street in the Inage Ward, Chiba City.
In particular, my research focused on the Inage Akari Festival, Yotoboshi. I analyzed perspectives at three levels: (1) actions of shopkeepers who are the main members of the Yotoboshi executiv (actor level), (2) the relationship between various community groups and the shopping street union through the Yotoboshi management (group level), and (3) changing evaluations from outside the community through social policy and media (structure level).
The following factors can be drawn with respect to the three points of view: (1) actor level: the time of the changing generation of shopkeepers in Inage shopping street promoting union, two inspection tours inspiring the union to know the role of the community actors, and understanding the Inage Akari Festival, Yotoboshi through collaboration between the university student group and the shopping street union, (2) group level: collaboration between several community groups and the shopping street union for the management of the festival and the achievement of the meaning of the festival as a community through collaboration and formation of multiple layers of members in the festival executive committee (residents in Inage area, groups of activity based in Inage area, and voluntary participation from outside the Inage area); (3) structure level: positive evaluations for community formed by various media and social policies, and reflexive internalization of the evaluation by core members of the festival’s executive committee (in particular, shopkeepers in the union).
These factors contribute to regional and community studies by clarifying the process of community formation function through a shopping street union. Furthermore, these conclusions are key in studying the local commercial function that depends on the shopping street unions in Japan.