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New Series: Regional Revitalization Seizing the Opportunity of Regional Revitalization to Regenerate Kiyama Kazuya Matsuda Vice Mayor Kiyama Town [Date of Issue: 29/May/2015 No.0243-0974]

Date of Issue: 29/May/2015

New Series: Regional Revitalization
Seizing the Opportunity of Regional Revitalization to Regenerate Kiyama

Kazuya Matsuda
Vice Mayor
Kiyama Town

Identified as one of those Japanese towns and cities facing potential extinction, Kiyama has seized the government's regional revitalization drive as a golden opportunity to engage in its own strategic and ongoing campaign to regenerate the area.

1. Extinction shock
As a commuter town feeding into Fukuoka, one of Japan's most rapidly growing cities, and located at a key point in Kyushu's transport network, the town of Kiyama maintained steady economic growth and population expansion through to 2000 as a logistics hub for private firms. However, as of 2000, the tide began to turn as the town experienced a population outflow particularly among women of marriageable and child-bearing age, who left in large numbers for reasons such as study, work and marriage. As a result, Kiyama found itself among those municipalities forecast by the Japan Policy Council as likely to experience a drop-off of more than 50 percent in the number of local aged 20 to 39 in the years between 2010 and 2040, positioning them as "cities in danger of becoming extinct". This news came as a major shock to Kiyama residents and government officials.

Kiyama map
Population ternd in kiyama
2. Kiyama fights back
Where Kiyama has failed for the last dozen years to fully exploit its geographical convenience and advantage, being labelled as a town likely to become extinct has actually served as a positive catalyst, providing a golden opportunity for residents, local government officials and the local assembly to come together and address regional revitalization. A range of plans and programs have been actioned, including the establishment of a study group on sixth-order industrialization* to foster collaboration between agriculture and forestry and commerce, the development of hometown specialty products, and regional revitalization initiatives using history, culture and even sports.

The above initiatives have been lent further momentum by government moves to support regional revitalization in response to a shared awareness of the problems of a growing population concentration in Tokyo and an overall population decline. Utilizing the powerful tools presented by the government, Kiyama is launching a comeback.

3. Specific Kiyama initiatives: Initiatives at the stage prior to regional revitalization schemes
Kiyama has around 15 regional revitalization schemes planned, some of which have already been implemented, but here I want to look at a number of initiatives which are currently being undertaken in Kiyama as the prior stage to these schemes.

(1) Review of town hall structure and personnel, etc.
To facilitate the regional revitalization process, we have engaged in structural reform and an organizational review of our town hall for the first time in almost a decade. Specifically, we instituted a broad-ranging review of our various divisions, setting up an industrial revitalization division for the coordinated promotion of agriculture and forestry and commerce and a permanent residence promotion office to tackle population decline from a comprehensive and specialist perspective. We have also made some bold personnel decisions, including hiring six new employees from the outside to serve as "ready firepower" and appointing eight young employees as office heads.

(2) Efforts using the Kiyaman image character
We are working to raise the town's profile and encourage repeat customers using Kiyaman, Kiyama's image character, at a diverse range of local historical, cultural and sports-related events.

(3) Using community-building volunteers and village support staff and supporting their activities
Recognizing that in local communities the perspective of not only committed locals but also outsiders and young people is important when seeking to get something started, we have appointed three people under the government's local revitalization assistant and village supporter schemes and are providing them with freedom of action and support.

(4) Launching a furusato nozei reward program
Using the furusato nozei, or hometown tax, scheme is an effective means for local areas to identify and polish up hometown specialty products. Kiyama too has launched the scheme, amassing considerable donations and reciprocating with hometown product rewards.

https://www.furusato-tax.jp/japan/prefecture/41341 (Japanese Only)

(5) Local chamber of commerce and industry and JA combine to form Kiyama Industrial Revitalization Council
The local chamber of commerce and industry, JA branch, the post office and other organizations had taken on the promotion of various schemes, but they tended to separate down vertical lines, so we created a single organization embracing all of these to serve as the implementation agent for regional revitalization schemes.

Kiyama Industrial Revitalization Council established
4. Specific Kiyama initiatives: Main regional revitalization schemes
Finally, I would like to outline four key initiatives out of the approximately 15 regional revitalization schemes which Kiyama is either implementing or will implement based on the preliminary efforts noted above.

(1) Kiyama Hometown Support Mail Order Project
Targeting as its main users those repeat customers to the furusato nozei reward program which started this April, as well as the Kiyama PA Hometown Support Market scheduled for establishment, this project entails building Kiyama's own simple and cheap mail order system to promote mail order sales of local specialties. The system itself will also be made available for use by other local governments.

(2) Kiyama PA Hometown Support Market
A Kiyama PA Hometown Support Market will be set up in the Kiyama Parking Area (PA), Kyushu's largest highway parking area, as a mini market for direct sales of Kiyama specialty products. These will include Kiyama vegetables, processed foods, handicrafts and souvenirs. The aim is to create a hub not just for selling goods but rather integrating various functions such as furusato nozei, mail order sales and home delivery, as well as helping local SMEs to build their product and brand development capacities.

(3) Kiyama Home Delivery Network Scheme
Kiyama has a history of and base for pharmaceuticals home delivery sales, as well as offering convenient transport, which is why even today many businesses use the town's proximity to the Fukuoka metropolitan area to provide home deliveries. This scheme will be developed as a model project, building a network of businesses providing home deliveries in order to offer a wider range of home delivery functions, develop warehouse management systems and boost freight efficiency, with the long-term aim of setting up new companies.

(4) Regional Stimulation Project Using Industry, University and Government Human Resources ("Strategic Silver Resources")
Many fabulous senior citizens, including retired university professors and local company executives, live in Kiyama, with a particular concentration in the Keyakidai area. To implement this project, we will organize these personnel and create places for them to operate. Specifically, this will include planning various types of model projects for health management classes and weekend classes for children utilizing senior citizens' knowhow, as well as matching senior citizens with SMEs, convenience stores and other businesses who need their skills.

* Promoting agricultural revitalization by combining growing things (traditional primary industry) with processing (secondary industry) and distributing and selling things (tertiary) to produce synergies

(original article : Japanese)
(For the Japanese version of this article)

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