This paper probed into and criticized the following two frameworks. The first one is the Masuda Report-viz. the “Strategy to Stop Declining Birthrate and Vitalize Regional Localities”-that was released in May 2014 by Japan Policy Council’s Evaluation Subcommittee on the Question of Population Decrease. Based on the idea of “disappearing regional localities” as argued in the Masuda Report, the Second Abe Cabinet has been promoting “chino souse,” known in Japanese government documents in English as “Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan.”The second framework is a series of policies on chino sosei, in other words “regional localities vitalization,” especially those on growth strategy, local government system, and national land planning. In this regard, the paper examined the argument of “disappearing regional localities”whether they are valid or not from the perspective of regional economic studies. At the same time, it clarified the fundamental direction of local revitalization as against the policies of “regional localities vitalization.”
The number of households in rural communities has been witnessing a decline from the year 2000, whereas the number of small rural communities has been increasing rapidly. This trend has contributed to the weakening of the functions and activities of rural communities, and is especially remarkable in mountainous farming areas. A very small number of rural communities had disappeared between 1990 and 2010. Using cohort analysis, it is predicted that the number of “rural communities in danger of disappearance“ would increase from approximately 3,000 communities in 2010 to approximately 13,000 communities in 2050. Moreover, it is predicted that one-fourth or more of these rural communities are those in mountainous farming areas. The results indicate that if nothing is done now, many rural communities will not be able to continue various community-based activities in the near future.
We reviewed a practical strategic model of “physical support for local communities” for rural regeneration, based on the concept of the reconstruction supporter system that was introduced as a reconstruction measure for the Mid Niigata Prefecture Earthquake and the “soft” measures for village regeneration. We performed a simulation of processes that included the introduction of the local vitalization cooperator system and the settlement support from the perspective of local government, and described points to be considered when local government introduces physical support to a community.