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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien



Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Tel: 03 – 3222 5198, Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


Registration Info

Please register with Volker Elis:

Rural Areas without Hope? Structural Change and Policy Options in Japan and Germany

December 5, 2008

Recently, the problems of declining rural areas have begun to receive widespread attention both in Japan and Germany. Ongoing depopulation of whole regions, demographic ageing, economic shrinkage and the pressure to downsize public infrastructure are issues of crucial importance. In Germany, the worst-case-scenario that the ongoing population shift from east to west will eventually lead to desolated villages and a breakdown of regional communities has lately become a matter of concern reflected by increasing media coverage. In Japan, the widening gap between metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions has lately been recognized as an issue which can even swing the results of national elections in one direction or the other. In this context, the aim of this international workshop is to bring Japanese and German scholars together to foster the exchange of ideas concerning the present state of affected areas and policy options to master the challenges of rural decline. The following questions will be addressed:

  • Which regional socio-economic disparities are relevant in Japan and Germany?

  • Which processes and mechanisms are currently at work in the rural areas and how should their future prospects be assessed?

  • Which implications do national policies have for the actors in rural areas?

  • Do conventional top-down concepts for regional planning still make sense?

  • Can bottom-up concepts and regional governance approaches be a solution?

These questions will be discussed in four thematic sections consisting of two talks focusing on Japan and Germany, respectively. Our approach is to delve into empirical issues which have relevance for economic geography, political science, and planning and will become increasingly important as demographic ageing and shrinkage are gaining momentum.

Supported by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung


9:30 - 9:45
Welcome address and opening of the workshop

Peter Backhaus

German Institute for Japanese Studies

Volker Elis

German Institute for Japanese Studies

9:45 - 11:05
Section 1: Regional Socioeconomic Disparities in Japan and Germany

Regional Disparities in Japan

Kenji YAMAMOTO (Kyushu University, Fukuoka)

Growing and Shrinking Regions in Germany – An Overview

Ralph Lützeler

German Institute for Japanese Studies

11:25 - 12:45
Section 2: Current situation in Shrinking Regions in the Rural Periphery

Demographic Change and Civil Society in Remote Rural Areas

Claudia NEU (Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Braunschweig)

Shrinking Towns in Japan᾿s Rural Periphery – Current Situation and Future Prospects

Volker Elis

German Institute for Japanese Studies

14:00 - 15:30
Section 3: Conventional Top-down Concepts for Regional Revitalization

Effects of a Decreasing-Population Society and the National Spatial Strategies from a Global Economic Perspective

Masaki YAMAMOTO (Fukuoka Asian Urban Research Center)

Statutory Planning Instruments in Rural Development: the Role of Top-Down Approaches Addressing Demographic Change

Ulrike GRABSKI-KIERON (Münster University)

15:40 - 17:00
Section 4: From Government to Regional Governance?

Demographic Change in Peripheral Areas – from Local Action to Regional Networks

Peter WIRTH and Bernhard MÜLLER (Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development, Dresden)

Bottom-up Approaches for Regional Revitalization in Japan. Coping with Depopulation and Demographic Ageing in Rural Japan: From Government to Local Governance

KIM Doo-Chuland BU Hye-Jin (Okayama University)

17:00 - 17:45
Concluding Discussion

Related Research Projects

Demographic Change and its Regional Implications for Municipalities in Rural and Urban Areas

Challenges of Demographic Change