NIRA Research Report No. 20000001
Efforts Made in the Hilly and Mountainous Areas
which Suggest a New Japan
In various places in the hilly and mountainous areas of the country, efforts are being made to implement regional planning which concentrates on the uniqueness and individuality of each region by focusing on the region's natural resources etc. With emphasis on the key phrase, the "beneficial cycle" of the natural environment, economy and people, this research project presents regions which either alone or through organic combination with other regions have succeeded, or are likely to succeed, in establishing an identity and a sense of regional pride, thereby increasing the region's attractiveness.
In particular, this study has focused on providing concrete examples of regions which have concentrated on providing the kind of attractive lifestyle which cannot be experienced in urban areas, and on regions which have pursued cooperation with urban areas. For those regions which have focussed on the appeal of the lifestyle to be experienced in the region, specific fucus has been made by each region on the unique natural environment and the culture and skills formed in relation to this, such having arisen through efforts at coexistence with the natural environment or in confrontation with it.
First, the 45 nationwide regions studied by three research institutes are categorized into the following four types by the main factor contributing to implementing the beneficial cycle.
Type 1: The restoration of natural resources (Utilization skills)
The regions categorized here are those which have implemented the beneficial cycle by making efforts to restore natural resouces or utilization skills of such to a sustainable level; these activities have become a strategy to ensure regional survival.
Type 2: The development of new natural resources (Utilization skills)
The regions categorized under this type are those implementing the beneficial cycle by developing new natural resources and utilization skills. These include the recycling of garbage et., and the development of clean energy sources.
Type 3: The inheritance and preservation of traditional skills and life spaces
The regions in this category have realized the beneficial cycle through the inheritance and preservation of traditional skills, of the cultures related to peoples' daily diet, of the region's scenery, or of the life spaces of the local people; that is to say, through factors which have arisen during people's efforts to either coexist with Nature or to confront it. In many regions which come under this category, the focus of activity has been the hamlets.
Type 4: Emphasis on the region's major products and other characterisitcs from a new angle
In this category, the beneficial cycle is realized by emphasizing major products or traditional arts and legends associated with the region from a new angle. The secret of success in this category is the promotion of the "original" product and marketing.
Next, the concreate cases of the study are further categorized into six types based on the entities which have been central in the activities of regional promotion involved.
Hamlets: Hamlets are the major players in the type of regional planning focussing on the inheritance and preservation of traditional skills and life spaces (Type3).
Resident's groups and NPOs: Most cases of regional development undertaken by citizen's group and NPOs concentrate on activities focussing on the restoration of natural resources (or utilization skills) (Type 1).
Cities, towns and villages, and foundations and corporate entities established by such: A large number of the regions continue to be categorized under this type.
Agricultural cooperatives, forestry associations and commerce and industry associations: It has been pointed out that the role of these organizations has recently been declining and that they have become a restraint to the development of the hilly and mountainous areas. In this research project, however, it has been confirmed that there are a few such associations which have played the role of "control tower" in enhancing the participation and cooperation of various entities, both inside and outside the region, in regional promotion. The discovery of such examples is one of the major accomplishments of this research project.
Private companies: It has been confirmed that some private companies regard the hilly and montainous areas as both an environment which needs to be preserved and as a suitable site for business activities.
Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido and the prefectures: In this study, a case in which such an entity has played the role of coordinator, connecting the hilly and mountainous areas and urban areas through an exchange of people and inforamtion, was found.
Based on the above classifications, that is to say on the type of development activity undertaken and the major entity undertaking such, the following five points have become clear.
The significance of the hamlets and the necessity to reevaluate them
It has been reconfirmed that the hamlet is a unit closely connected to people's daily lives in the hilly and mountainous areas.
Revitalization of regional interest groups such as the agricultural cooperatives and commerce and industry associations
It is essential for these organizations to play a core role in efforts to promote the region so that the cycles of nature will be linked to those of the economy.
Cooperation among hamlets, existing regional interest groups and NPO-type organizations:
How the future security and promotion of people's lives in the region, and the industries of such, through the preservation, restoration and renewal of natural resources, and how the fostering of new personnel to play a key role in the community in the future will be achieved through cooperation among these organizations will have a decisive influence on the future servival of rural communities.
The relationship with urban areas--from "exchange" to "cooperation"
This research project has identified several examples of the type of regional development focussing on cooperation and recycling, such as the preservation of forests and terraced rice fields, and the utilization of garbage as organic fertilizer.
At the frontier of the type of regional development focussing on environmental preservation
As shown by some of the cases presented in this research project, the disadvantages of a region may provide the possibility of achieving regionwide zero-emission.
[ Back ]
National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) Home Page
Copyright (c) National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA)