SPECIAL vol.8 Attending the “Sanriku Region Machizukuri Symposium” ~Citizen-led Machizukuri and the Government’s Responsibility~
by Voices from the Field Admin - Friday, 18 May 2012, 08:35 AM


An administrative officer’s viewpoint (See also Mr.Teratani’s related report.)

Yasubumi Oyama

Executive Director, Office of Secretarial and Public Relations, Iwate Prefecture

January 18th, 2012

 In order to promote recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami ( ※ ) which occurred on March 11th, 2011, the Iwate Prefectural government developed a Reconstruction Plan on August 11th of that year. Based upon this Prefectural plan, each of the twelve coastal municipalities drew up its own reconstruction plan by the end of last year. This year, consequently, the residents of the area are to take initiative to start their “machizukuri (community vitalization)” toward recovery.

 Under this circumstance, on December 15th, 2011, I took part in the Sanriku Region Machizukuri Symposium which was open to the public. It was organized by a group including Professor Masaaki Minami of Iwate University, who is also a member of a special committee of Iwate Reconstruction Council. The symposium was held at Iwate University drawing about 200 participants. I would like to report on the second half of the symposium, in which opinions were exchanged on the topic of citizen-led machizukuri toward recovery.

 First, Dr. Okada, Professor of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University, made a keynote speech. He introduced a successful case of community re-vitalization from his experience of engaging in the “Japan Zero-to-One Community Vitalization Movement” in Chizu Town, Tottori Prefecture. Although the town faced problems of depopulation and aging, the residents were very active and creative. They developed a unique workshop method named Yonmen Kaigi System (four sided discussion system) to share their vision of their community in ten years’ time, worked on specific projects to achieve the vision, and finally succeeded in reviving the community.

 After the keynote speech, a panel discussion took place with seven panelists including Dr. Okada, all of whom are working in disaster-affected areas all over Japan as members of a university, NPOs, citizens’ groups, or administrative bodies.

 First, Mr. Hideki Kubota (a member of an NPO called “Let’s Get Up on our Feet! Taro, Miyako”) from Taro Town in Miyako City, which was seriously damaged in earthquake and tsunami, appealed that they were eager to make a move toward recovery, but did not know what to start with. In response, Mr. Atsushi Teratani (the initiator of the Japan Zero-to-One Community Vitalization Movement in Chizu Town), Mr. Fumihiko Inagaki (Representative of Chuetsu Citizens’ Council for Recovery at the time of the 2004 Chuetsu Earthquake in Niigata Prefecture) and other panelists presented convincing advice supported by real-life examples; “Residents should earnestly develop a vision for their community’s recovery.” “You should not be hesitant to recruit outside experts, if necessary.” “Try to make good use of government support instead of just opposing them.” “It is important to accumulate small experiences of success.” These words gave us courage and a ray of hope, because they were those of the people who had actually overcome the hardships of disaster.

 This symposium had a lot of participants from places as far as 100 kilometers away within the disaster-affected area, including from the cities of Miyako and Ofunato. This fact indicates that the residents are highly motivated to take initiative to promote machizukuri for recovery, and at the same time that many of them are seeking practical information and suggestions for that.

 The symposium has made me strongly aware of government’s growing responsibility to provide timely and attentive support to meet their needs, so that each of the communities can promote machizukuri swiftly and revive as an area even more prosperous than before. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the organizers, as well as to the speakers and the panelists.

 ※   As the damages caused by the tsunami were enormous, Iwate Prefecture calls this disaster the “Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami” adding tsunami to the official name of the event which the national government designated.

● Panelists of the symposium


From left

◇   Mr. Hideki Kubota, Member of NPO “Let’s Get Up on our Feet! Taro, Miyako” (in Taro Town, Miyako City)

◇   Mr. Yoshio Terai, Representative of SAVE IWATE (in Morioka City)

◇   Mr. Fumihiko Inagaki, Representative of Chuetsu Citizens’ Council for Recovery (in Niigata Prefecture)

◇   Mr. Atsushi Teratani, the initiator of the Japan Zero-to-One Community Vitalization Movement, Chizu, Tottori

◇   Mr. Setsuo Hirai, Deputy Director of Bureau of Reconstruction, Iwate Prefecture

◇   Mr. Ryuichi Wakisaka, Urban Senior Coordinator of Tohoku Regional Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport

◇ Dr. Norio Okada, Professor of Disaster Prevention Research Institute of Kyoto University

The readers are also invited to visit the following websites.

● Iwate Prefecture’s English web pages regarding the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

◇ Ganbaro Iwate! (がんばろう!岩手宣言)


◇ Iwate Prefecture Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Reconstruction Plan (岩手県東日本大震災津波復興基本計画)


◇ Basic Reconstruction Plan < Outline >(岩手県東日本大震災津波復興基本計画概要版)


◇ Charity Donations for the Great Tohoku Earthquake Disaster (東北地方太平洋沖地震義援金)


◇ News from Iwate’s Reconstruction (いわて復興だより)

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Re: SPECIAL vol.8 Attending the “Sanriku Region Machizukuri Symposium” ~Citizen-led Machizukuri and the Government’s Responsibility~
by el joma - Thursday, 24 May 2012, 11:14 PM
Hi Mr. Oyama,

Good evening.

I wanted to share with you some thoughts I gathered over the past week when I first read your post last Friday. I was very fortunate to have joined the first year anniversary meeting of VfF last May 19 and among the many reflections and ideas shared my main take away from that meeting was the discussion on Machizukuri.

Dr. Okada explained that one of the most crippling stumbling blocks being felt on the ground was the coordination of various recovery efforts within and between local, regional or national government offices into one unified, synchronized, and most importantly, Machizukuri-led/validated plan, and subsequently implementing this plan.

While each government office may have the skills, budget and mandate, even a good track record, to do its specialized function, the task of recovery ahead is for the most part unprecedented in both scale and complexity, Dr. Okada continued, and thus ultimately, in the end, communication, coordination, proper planning of recover interventions grounds to turtle's crawl, if not a complete halt.

In this situation, I am thinking then that even previous experiences, conceptions, expectations of Machizukuri-led community planning and development may have taken place in a context different from the current tsunami-recovery context.

Would it now be like a situation of "the blind leading the blind" considering the existence of situation above (the first blind person) and now a Machizukuri-led expectation (the second blind person) but anchored in a different context?

If this is, or will indeed be, the case on the ground, I would like to help to do a Machizukuri-led documentation project. I will research past model cases of Machizukuri-led development done in a disaster recovery context (maybe during the 1995 Kobe earthquake or other recent disasters), culling out the essence of Machizukuri-led participation. If we find something about "extreme-conditions-Machizukuri" and agree on its meaning and significance (and it is written) then maybe it could serve as a guide of sorts to communities in Tohoku who may be grappling to find a response to the problem described by Dr. Okada.

To do this, I need one thing though. I can't read Japanese (yet!) so I will need to work with someone who can so that we can exhaustively cover all information needed.

Thank you and I hope I can join you or any other VfF activity in the disaster-areas as I have not yet had the opportunity to help out on the ground.