Revitalizing depopulated mountainous areas through endogenous self-organization: A case study of Kawane Village, Akitakata City, Hiroshima Prefecture

H. J. Bu, D. C. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Recently, the Japanese government initiated an administrative process which has resulted in the merging of municipalities across the country. Since then, the quality of services provided to inhabitants by the local government has declined in depopulated areas. As a result, it has been suggested that there may be a role for self-organization in the revival of local governance. In many depopulated areas, the distance between local government and the local community has continued to grow, and this has led to the newly established local government transferring certain responsibilities to the local community. Consequently, the reorganization of the local community has become indispensable. Kawane Village is located in the mountainous area of Akitakata City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Despite having a rapidly aging population, this village has been particularly successful in revitalizing local governance through reorganization of the local community. This research examines a variety of the community activities involved, and the unique management methods behind them, in an attempt to ascertain the factors which have resulted in successful self-governance in this village. Since its establishment in 1972, the Kawane Promotion Association has experienced three crucial turning points. Initially, the Kawane Promotion Association, which had previously consisted of only a few households, encouraged every household in the village to become involved in the organization of cultural activities. Since the 1980s, the Kawane Promotion Association has begun to act as a representative for the local community, for example, in dealing with local problems and in communicating with the local government. Finally, since the 1990s, the Kawane Promotion Association has begun to manage private land resources and offer welfare services to individuals. The Kawane Promotion Association has instigated the development of eight related departments that are responsible for specific tasks or activities. This research shows that the success of the Kawane Promotion Association lies in its unique style of management, whereby there is no central authority ; instead, decision-making powers are transferred among units as required, ensuring full participation by local residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-50
Number of pages15
JournalJapanese Journal of Human Geography
Volume62
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Akitakata city
  • Depopulated mountainous village
  • Kawane promotion association
  • Kawane village
  • Local community
  • Local governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

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