Basin Zone Regeneration Project, Hino Irrigation Channel Regeneration WG
Date：24 July. 2008 (Thu) 17:00-19:00
|"The Role and Meaning of Entrants
to Rural Areas for Spontaneous Activation"
Yutaro Senga (Professor, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology)
[Situations of Rural Villages in Japan]
The depopulation and aging became recognized as serious problems for rural villages in Japan. Behind the problem are market fundamentalism, liberal trade, processing trade of industrial products, import liberalization of agricultural products, and "selective expansion" policy of agricultural products, developed under the influence of U.S. Rice farmers could not earn about as little as 300 yen an hour. Easing of regulations enforced by the Koizumi administration resulted in widening the gap between cities and regions from the viewpoints of welfare/medicine, education/culture, financial and administrative systems/tax system, and economy/politics. In addition, there has been a rooted trend of dominance of cities (center) over rural areas (regions) in Japanese society. Even people working in a conservation work, have sometimes preserved the illusion as above.
6.08 million hectares of agricultural area in 1961, became 4.69 million hectares in 2005, which was declined by 23 %. This was 46 % decrease in rice acreage. When comparing cultivated acreage per farmhouse, EU is 9 times, U.S. is 99 times, and Australia is 1881 times larger than that of Japan. In business would, it is often said that Japan has to develop competitive strength as other countries, which seems to be impossible when considering the different conditions as above. The number of farmhouses that sell their products was 1,963,000 in 2005, decreasing about 690,000 since 1995. The trend was accelerated because the decreasing number of farmhouses was 370,000 from 2000 to 2005. The number of newcomers to agriculture was about 80,000 in 2005. 51 % was sixty years old and above. On the other hand, city-dwellers were not also in happy conditions. More and more city-dwellers have wished to move into rural areas because of degradation of working and living conditions, widening of the income gap, overcrowded population, etc. However, they can move only when houses and works might be secured. The demand of conservation of farm lands within cities and suburban areas has gradually increased. However, the depopulation of agricultural and mountain villages has been aggravated, and "villages almost reaching their limits" have increased at the same time. Although city-dwellers wish to move, the rural villages often lack enough conditions to receive them. For example, lack of workplaces, law price of agricultural products, small management scale, etc. Agriculture could not ensure new farmers enough incomes. Even if they could earn enough money to eat, cash earnings for education, medicine, welfare would be necessary. Moreover, the costs to start agriculture (including necessary time) for obtain farm lands, machineries, facilities, farming technology, start-up costs, advisors, fellow farmers, are considerably high. The support measures for such costs are not enough.
Then, what should we do? We should reorganize our country, local governments, communities based on "subsidiarity" that has been typical in EU.
It is important for rural areas to improve regional autonomy and economical independence based on spontaneous development. Utilizing regional resources, we should promote general industries (The Sixth Industries) by combining agricultural production (Primary Industries), processing industries (Secondary Industries), and distribution industries (Tertiary Industries). Then we should manage areas for consuming local products (chisan-chisho area) including communities, municipalities, basin zones, and prefectures based on "subsidiarity". In addition, through exchange between cities and farm villages, we should also develop supportive settings and actual funding for public "conservation value", including conservations of "national land", "natural environments", "water resources", "cultural and educational environments", and "biomass resources" of rural areas.
The spontaneous activation refers to sustainable and healthy regional formation where inhabitants independently participate from planning to implementation or utilization phases, in cooperation with other areas' inhabitants (city-dwellers), based on local resources and original nature and cultures, instead of enforced by external organizations or imitating other areas. In rural areas, we can obtain various local resources that cannot be found in cities. We will be able to realize spontaneous activation if we develop regional activities and businesses based on these resources. One of the issues of spontaneous activation is related to population, concerning how to secure what kinds of human resources in rural areas suffered from depopulation, aging and rurban (Konju-ka) communities.
For securing human resources for spontaneous activation, the following steps will be required; 1) The essence of spontaneous activation triggers "activation of individual", fostering him/her to be a human resource. 2) Processes of "planning" as "leaning of each region" lead to expanded participation of inhabitants, and cultivate leaders among inhabitants. 3) For promoting participation from voluntary and highly-motivated inhabitants to processes of regional activation, it will be necessary to give inhabitants feeling of achievement and happiness, as well as the experience of successes based on trials and errors. 4) The "leader group" is necessary to plan and manage overall regional activities that looks like a "drama".
[A "Drama" of Spontaneous Activation]
The project of spontaneous activation looks like a long-run "drama" based on the "region", produced by local inhabitants. In that drama, inhabitants design ideal images for living, works, growth, aging, nature and culture and understand the issues and possibilities to reach their goals in 5, 10, or 100 years later. As a result, they can design relevant processes to attain their goals. A drama is produced by 1) promoter (projector), 2) actors, 3) director and stage director, 4) scenarist, and 5) administrative stuffs. The roles 1) and 2) should be played by local inhabitants. For 3), 4), and 5), people from other areas can play the roles. It is preferable that actors might participate in the planning. It is often said that bustling towns have good leaders. However, the analysis of their actual roles, personal histories, qualifications (where they got), and how they demonstrate their leaderships, are not enough. A promoter or projector of role 1) is a general director of the region. Therefore, he/she should be respectable person, who is responsible for local consensus formation giving validity to the project, as well as negotiation with other areas for securing financing. The actors of role 2) is composed of inhabitants, schools, private companies, agricultural cooperatives, municipal government, various organizations, recreation circles, etc. The director of the role 3) is assumed to be a bureau chief. Starting from preparing planning documents, through overall processes of project development, he/she organizes activities and coordinates specific processes of the project. Because talents for the role should be based on original experiences and sensitivities, appropriate human resource could rarely be found in a local society. Therefore, people from other regions might conduct activities for this role. Needless to say, a bureau chief should respect for the region. The role 4) scenarist falls under a planner of regional development of NPO who is mainly responsible for proposing planning for regional activities. He/she draws up plans for regional development as a solution for regional issues, local resources, needs, systematic supporting policies based on the objective analysis. The position requires objectivity for figuring out regional information, fine sensitivity, forecast capability for short, middle and long periods; we anticipate people from other regions might participate based on their objective viewpoints and rich practical experiences. As for the role 5), the bureau carries out administrative works for overall activities, including records, finances, public relations, etc. The regional activation will succeed if the above roles can be well coordinated. A person should play several roles in reality.
[Poor Land System]
One of the essential issues is unfortunate "land standard". This system had composed the origin of distorted climate which has been historically deep-rooted.
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