Obuse: From a Small, Rural Japanese Town into an Urban Phoenix
Many local towns and cities in highly centralized Japanese administrative system have been struggling to financially and politically autonomous especially ever since the beginning of modernization. One of them was Obuse with the total population of about 12,000. It became over the last three decades a highly successful local autonomy widely recognized for its innovative development measures to achieve respectable economic and cultural development. This case study is intended to explore the possible factors which contributed to its success with a particular focus on the role of popular participation. It is mainly based on a number of interviews with residents of Obuse including the mayor and the chairperson of the Obuse Town Assembly and the published materials at the Obuse town library during three field visits of the author to the town in 2011 and 2016. The study first describes chronologically the measures to restore and strengthen the economic activities of Obuse and attempts to assess the key contributing factors to the transformation of this small rural town into a financially and culturally attractive entity.
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