The rapid decrease in and the aging of Japan's population seriously influence the sustainability of municipalities and communities. The Japanese government is preparing several policies for preventing population mobility, directed especially toward slowing the movement of the younger generation from local areas to central metropolitan areas.
Even though these policies are accepted in many municipalities, the amount of abandoned farm land, forests, and houses are increasing in rural areas. In urban areas, public buildings, schools, factories, and shopping centers are getting older and are used less. In fact, it is difficult to manage the infrastructure as well as the decreasing population in these areas.
Though such movement is ongoing, people's activities related to using and maintaining common resources are decreasing; thus, social relationships centered on common resources in local and urban communities are weak and thin. Therefore, we must develop ideas and methods for rebuilding these social relationships.
For this symposium, we invited three specialists. The first speaker was Dr. Ko Fujiyama, who analyzed the limited circulation of the local economy in rural communities. The second speaker was Dr. Masahide Hayashi, who examined several rules for picking mushrooms in the local commons of the forest area in Tadami, Fukushima Prefecture. The third speaker was Dr. Takeshi Hamada, who reviewed the traditional rules for catching abalone—primarily along the Sanriku coast—and the historical background. The speakers discussed the actual conditions in each area and offered some suggestions for sustaining social relationships and rural communities. After the presentations, Dr. Takeo Nishimura and Dr. Satomi Tanaka took part in the discussion.
We acquired good information and suggestions from each presentation and the subsequent comments. We understand that differences in logic and rules apply when using common resources according to social, economic, geographical, and historical conditions. Thus, we need to discuss and devise optimal situations in local areas for rebuilding sustainable communities.
Many communities in Japan are facing a rapid population decrease, representing a deep sustainability crisis. Concentrations of the population in large cities have created a vast underpopulated area through mountainous regions. Recently, newly developed housing areas in suburbs of large cities have caused angst regarding the decreasing and aging population.
In the first half of the 2010s, we saw small villages in peripheral areas—such as very deep mountainous areas and remote islands—collecting inflows among the younger generation. In most local areas, an inflow of more than 1% of the population annually facilitates success in stabilizing the regional population. Improvements in regional economic circulation are expected to support these incoming populations.
“Small local hubs” that are developing under the national policy represent a promising idea for connecting local life and the economy. These hubs can serve as combined centers for community activities, traffic, commerce, and energy by uniting local people and capitalizing on their small power base. Small local hubs will promote unity among local people in their focus on the future of their communities. Further, they are evolving as basic units of a recycling-oriented society.
Many Japanese common forests are underutilized because of the increase in fossil fuel consumption, agricultural machinery, and imported timber. Depopulation in mountainous regions accelerates the underutilization of common forests. In such conditions, allowing nonlocals to use communal forests may benefit local communities. To investigate the social conditions for successful accommodation of nonlocals, we compared the uses and rules of collecting wild vegetables and mushrooms in 10 common forests in Tadami, Fukushima, focusing on the characteristics of social relationships in these communities.
In this research, we found that communities could be classified according to two dimensions based on how they dealt with nonlocals wanting to use the common forests. One was the existence of institutions to accommodate nonlocals' entrance, and the other was how actively resources were invested to operate such institutions. We focused on active institutions. Among the 10 communities studied, five had adopted active institutions, such as systems for entrance fees and guides; two communities had adopted inactive institutions (e.g., extensive management); and three communities had adopted no institution for the entrance of nonlocals. As a result, communities adopting active institutions were those with high rates of participation in community meetings and collaborative operations. Members of such communities also had homogeneity in sources of income. If community members share homogeneous income source and have a mutual interest in communal forests, it is easier to engage in collective action. However, our findings indicated that homogeneity alone is not a sufficient condition for realizing collective action.
In Japan's coastal areas, common fishing rights have been established based on Japanese fishing laws. A common fishing right is given to a group of fishermen who live in a fishing village and fish in a coastal fishing ground zoon following a historical self-governed fishing system. There are shared characteristics and traditional communal relationships among the fishermen in each fishing village, indicating that coastal fishing ground, common groups in the various fishing villages, and local self-governed fishing systems are all elements of the Japanese common fishing rights system.
On the other hand, most Japanese fishing villages are aging; thus, their populations are decreasing. As a result, communities in the fishing villages are in need of new entries into the common fishing rights system. Admission does not happen smoothly because of very strict rules and customs in the communal relationship among fishermen.
This paper introduces three types of self-governing abalone fishing systems on the Pacific side of Japan's Tohoku area. It also describes the characteristics of communal relationships among fishermen and addresses possible changes in such relationships after the admission of new entrants to abalone fishing groups.
With increasing social attention on conserving industrial heritage in Japan, the actors and social contexts of conservation have been diversified for the last decade. However, few studies have examined the dynamics taking place within local communities in the construction and diffusion of the cultural values of industrial heritage. This study focuses on the process of construction and diffusion within specific communities and accounts for the variety of motives and methodologies regarding conservation for multi-dimensional local actors. Moreover, based on the achievements of previous studies, this article shows the potential for the practice of conserving heritage sites that are excluded from official legislation by the local actors. This article is based on data from fieldwork conducted by the author at the Ikuno material mine sites in Hyogo Prefecture.
The main findings of this study are as follows. Conservation practices for industrial heritage sites in Ikuno are a loose ensemble of multiple actions undertaken by locals working from different concerns and, therefore, focusing on a wide range of objects derived from the former mining industry. Each movement has arisen from social and economic necessities, which reflect contemporary social conditions within communities. Although the variety of motivations among local actors can lead to conflict, we have determined that there is potential for cooperation among them. The key is the breadth of residents' shared perceptions regarding a common symbolic reference for the industrial heritage site as a milieu framing the collective memories of the former industry. This study indicates that symbolism is not related to industry but to relevant livelihoods in which multiple layers of residents have sufficient experience.
In this study, we assessed differences in lifestyles among local residents who did not have experience living in other prefectures (category A), those who had lived in other prefectures (category B), and “migrants” (residents who were living in another prefecture at the end of junior high school, category C). The location was Tsuru City, a non-metropolitan zone around Tokyo. We focused on “the migrant's acceptance of the local lifestyles.” Herein, we compare lifestyles of the three categories quantitatively from the following points: consumption of local dishes, shopping places, interaction between friends and relatives, and participation in social groups, such as jichikai or rotating credit associations. Even taking the lapse of time into consideration, we found differences in lifestyles between at least two categories of residents (between categories A and C and between categories B and C) for the following elements: consumption of local dishes, shopping in and around the Kofu area, interaction with friends living in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, or other prefectures; interaction with relatives who live in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, and other prefectures; and participation in rotating credit associations. Findings of the study indicated that acceptance of local lifestyles by migrants was not always quick. Additionally, category B had an “intermediate” character between categories A and C, especially in the pattern of interaction with friends.
The purpose of this research is to analyze how employees and their families who lived in company housing of Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company lived in two “communities”—that is, “the community firm” and the “local community”. In 1963, the Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company moved its headquarters to a rural area in Ōi-machi, Kanagawa Prefecture. The relocation of the company's Ōi head office (1963–2011) to a rural area was an experimental attempt against the backdrop of social problems, such as overcrowding, in central Tokyo. In this study, I explored historical documents related to the Ōi headquarters office and company housing; additionally, I conducted a survey (inteview format) with employees and their families who lived in Ōi-machi at the time.
As a result of the analysis, the findings of this study reveal the following. First, there were many voices in support of company life, such as the high quality of Ōi-machi's natural environment and the ease of childrearing. Second, wives who were raising children below primary school age had certain relationships with local residents in Ōi-machi through schools and housework. However, their husbands who worked for the Ōi head office tended not to have any such relationships. Third, “the community firm” and the “local community” were very different, indicating that the connection between these two communities was not too strong.
This article addresses social changes in Aceh, Indonesia—the largest affected area of the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami. The results of our community survey revealed the following main points. First, the characteristics of urbanization in developing countries, such as segregated resource exploitation and enclave economy, have significant implications with respect to the root causes of the disaster. Second, owing to proactive remarriage and childbirth after the disaster, the populations of affected communities have recovered to their peak levels. This finding suggests that the community's intrinsic function is rooted in survival value. Third, the gap in economic reconstruction between regions is expanding, which is significantly related to differences in the livelihood structures of communities. Finally, the disaster reconstruction process is also closely interconnected with long-term economic development in Aceh Province, which seeks to transform the previous enclave economy into an autonomous regional economy. In this sense, disaster reconstruction in Aceh is significant for not only disaster studies but also for community and regional studies in contemporary developing countries that are in the midst of decentralization.