This article describes the purpose and structure of the symposium “Local Communities and Family Strategies,” a part of the annual meeting of the Japan Society of Family Sociology held at Shizuoka University on September 8, 2013, summarizes four articles in the special issue based on the three presentations and the commentary, and addresses the issues raised for discussion at the symposium. It reveals the multilayered characteristics of family strategy and the complexity of support provision by the community drawing on Tsutomi's report on job-training support by ordinary citizen volunteers for unemployed youth having difficulty entering the job market, Nishimori's report on an NPO's activities supporting mothers and children who evacuated from Fukushima to Kobe after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and Yamaji's examination of rescue, evacuation, recovery, and community development in disaster areas. It then examines the limitations and effectiveness of “family strategy” in line with Kambara's criticisms regarding its effectiveness and her claim for the potential of the “life system theory” approach.
Seishounen-Shuro-Shien Network Shizuoka (Shizuoka Job Assistance Network for Youth) has provided assistance for unemployed youth who have had difficulty in entering the job market. Their job assistance approach is called the Shizuoka Method. The Shizuoka Method not only emphasizes the idea of recovery by adapting IPS (individual placement and support) developed for mentally ill patients interested in work, but also makes efforts to have community members be more mutually helpful to others by engaging ordinary citizen volunteers as supporters for youth. It has been observed that a young person and his/her parents try to maintain pride by avoiding negative appraisals by others and keeping their self-identity as being self-reliant, as a result of which they tend to exclude themselves from others in their community. Therefore, an approach to devising support for unemployed youth should invent ways to overcome this problem of self-isolation. The Shizuoka Method has developed a number of features to overcome this problem, adapting to local situations in Shizuoka. Finally, it is suggested that families with unemployed children may escape from this impasse by uniting as problem solvers with other families.
The main body of this article describes the activities of “Kobe Pocket Net,” a network of not-for-profit organizations that was established to support families affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis. The authors thereby examine the problems that mothers who have evacuated from disaster-hit communities to Kobe, at an approximate distance of 800 km, face as individuals and as members of a family, together with their strategies. The article also examines how not-for-profit organizations in the destination community can support them. The result shows that mothers have been actively trying to transform their difficult structural conditions with help from “communities.” It also suggests that it is important to consider the multiplicity of family boundaries and moreover the multiplicity of the scope of a strategy including “communities.” It is also revealed that a network of not-for-profit organizations that existed before the disaster played an important role in connecting mothers who came from the same area as each other, as well as in connecting them to a new community.
Japan is a country highly prone to disasters. The effects on individuals, families, and communities of March 11th, 2011, a massive multiple disaster including an earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear crisis, can barely be calculated. Individuals and communities are the main concern of disaster studies, it being expected that families will deal with their problems by themselves. In the recovery process, most governmental support for victims is provided on the day on which the disaster occurs and is based on Disaster Victim Certificate and its head of household, so direct victim support offered to a household member is very limited. That the suggestion of focusing on individuals does not come up when considering support for disaster victims is deeply related to how Japanese social security is based fundamentally on household units. It may be related to the lack of assistance for well-organized families managing without support for family care, such as that for the elderly and children. Now, however, is the time to assist in rebuilding the community using the concept of ‘machi-zukuri' and at the same time facilitate a liberal ‘family-zukuri' by establishing the ‘Family Cafe' in society.