Donnerstag, 10. Januar 2019, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Decentralizing Decline

Building Local Self-Governance Institutions in the Japan’s Peripheries

Hanno Jentzsch (German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo)

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie, Seminarraum Jap 1
Spitalgasse 2, UniversitätsCampus Hof 2, Eingang 2.4, 1090 Wien


The Heisei wave of municipal mergers (2002-2006) pushed many towns and villages to the peripheries of larger municipalities. These peripheries often face high aging rates and a lack of work opportunities and public services. Against this background, the Japanese government promotes the creation of so called “regional self-management organizations” (chiiki unei soshiki). Iida City (Nagano Prefecture) has served as a model for this devel-opment, with a longstanding system of civic self-governance on the level of its 20 districts.

This talk draws on participatory observation and interviews in one of these districts – the former village of Minami-Shinano – to analyze this emerging form of local self-governance. Field research shows how the self-governing institutions imported from Iida City crucially rely on the integration of preexisting local social structures (e.g. hamlets, neighborhood associations), which supports their legitimacy in the village, but also reinforces preexisting problems like the aging of local stakeholders and lim-ited participation of younger residents and women. More generally, the case illus-trates the role of “traditional” institutions in the ongoing process of reforming local governance in Japan’s peripheries.

Hanno Jentzsch is a senior research fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo. He received his PhD from the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2016, where he was a member of the DFG Research Training Group “Risk and East Asia”. The dissertation analyzes the process of insti-tutional change in the Japanese agricultural support and protection regime. His research interests include processes of institutional change in advanced political economies, varieties of capitalism, welfare regimes, and urban-rural relations.


Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Japanologie und AAJ (Akademischer Arbeitskreis Japan)


Mag. Angela Kramer
Universität Wien
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften - Japanologie