The transformation of the Japanese agricultural sector and the development of rural regions in the course of extensive infrastructure measures during the economic boom led to changes in many areas of rural life. Not only the often mentioned out-migration of younger generations but also the changing economic structures and the conditions for a livelihood in rural settlements were subjected to fundamental change. Among others, this also affected common work and the management of commons (common-pool resources) in the settlements, which had been embedded as a complex local system of cycles for a livelihood fitting the local environment.
By examining the grassland management of Aso (Kumamoto Pref.), I will first outline the natural conditions and then proceed to show how this transformation took place in the livestock farming sector and what problems the local population involved is currently exposed to. The lecture closes with an outlook on possible solutions, which I am currently exploring during a three-year field stay on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Environment researching “Regionally cycling and symbiotic area” (地域循環共生圏) in order to initiate a discussion within this working group about other possible forms of sustainable development in rural Japan.
Johannes Wilhelm, Kumamoto University (Kumamoto)