Issues Facing Primary Industry in the Provincial Areas
of the Kansai Region-
December 9, 2009
Within the Kansai Region, the area surrounding the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe has grown to become one of Japan's three major conurbations, but other areas, including the northern part of KyotoPrefecture, the central and northern parts of HyogoPrefecture and WakayamaPrefecture, have a strongly provincial character. The population of the provincial areas of the Kansai Region has been declining for many years. If these areas are to remain self-sufficient in spite of population decline, it is important that steps be taken to promote industry.
The industrial structure of the provincial areas of the Kansai Region features a high proportion of primary industries. Overall, primary industry is in decline, but by working to create added value through branding, the reform of distribution, and the development of innovative new products, it should be possible to foster industries that are able to create employment in the area. It will be necessary to support such initiatives and form new industries that take advantage of the features of the primary industries.
The provincial areas of the Kansai region enjoy a number of advantages: (i) it is easy to get close to the huge market of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe conurbation and to identify consumer needs; (ii) the Kansai has many young people as well as a large number of older inhabitants nearing retirement, and it is possible to harness the power of these consumers; (iii) the Region is home to many manufacturers (of food products, chemicals, machinery, etc.), and many universities and research institutions, making it easy to undertake industry-academia collaboration; and (iv) the Kansai has a large number of local brands that have achieved national renown, including Kyo-yasai [vegetable varieties traditional to the Kyoto area] and Tajima beef [local name for Kobe beef], so that there is ample scope for the revitalization of primary industries through branding.
Primary industries need to take steps to encourage the participation and collaboration of a widely varied workforce, give priority to branding and to marketing strategies that cater to the consumer preference for safety, combine the human resources, technology and know-how of the manufacturing sector, etc. with the strengths of primary industries, and develop successful examples of new business models. Given the aging of the current workforce and the difficulty of finding successors, they must also take steps to ensure the continuation of businesses. For this reason, new partnerships between producers and universities or research institutes, the manufacturing and distribution sectors, NPOs, etc., are needed, and partnerships of this type are being formed around the Region.
Case studies from around the Region have identified a number of issues that must be resolved if partnerships for the promotion of primary industries are to be formed: (i) there is insufficient collaboration between primary industries and the manufacturing sector; (ii) extensive further technological development is required if technologies held by the manufacturing sector are to be used in primary industries; and (iii) the viability of community businesses led by NPOs, etc. has yet to be established.
We proposed that the issues identified as a result of the case studies be addressed by (i) providing contact points between the manufacturing sector and primary industries (government research institutions coordinating between primary industries and other industries by government research institutions), (ii) promoting collaboration with universities and research institutions (manufacturing-affiliated as well as primary industry-affiliated research institutions), and (iii) the promotion of community businesses (indirectly support for the creation of NPOs, transfer of businesses from government to the private sector).
For more information on the content of this report, please contact: Tomoyuki Yokota the Japan Research Institute, Limited.