Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.58 No.4 (2006)

Vol.58 No.4 (2006)



Restructuring of the Rush Production Area in Kumamoto Prefecture with the Increase in Imported Rush Mats
GOTO Takuya (1)
Conversion to the Catholic Religion of Rural Society in Postwar Japan:
A Case of Group Conversion in Saga Village, Kyoto
SAKANO Yusuke (21)


The Politics of Geography and Political Geography
YAMAZAKI Takashi (41)

Research Notes

The Aging Population in the Suburbs of Metropolitan Tokyo
NAGANUMA Sae, ARAI Yoshio, ESAKI Yuji (63)

Meeting Reports

257th Regular Meeting (77)
84th Meeting of Geographical Thought (79)
85th Meeting of Geographical Thought (81)
3rd Meeting of Geographical Education (83)
102nd Meeting of Historical Geography (87)
103rd Meeting of Historical Geography (88)
News (89)


Restructuring of the Rush Production Area in Kumamoto Prefecture with the Increase in Imported Rush Mats

GOTO Takuya
(JSPS Research Fellow, Kyushu University)

The purpose of this paper is to clarify the restructuring mechanism of the rush production area in Kumamoto Prefecture, which represents the restructuring of an agricultural production area under a development import by Japanese agribusiness. The results of this analysis are summarized as follows.
The number of rush mats imported into Japan has increased after 1985, and the rush production area in Japan has declined remarkably. In 2002, the Rush Mat Importers’ Association (RMIA) was organized, so the author examined the characteristics of its members. As a result, more than 60% of RMIA members are the rush mat wholesalers located in four rush production areas of Okayama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Kumamoto Prefectures. Namely, it is clear that Japanese rush mat wholesalers have played very important roles in importing rush mats into the Japanese market.
The import activities by Japanese rush mat wholesalers have had a great influence on the rush production area in Kumamoto Prefecture. The behavior by the rush mat wholesalers is examined, taking the cases of the wholesalers dealing with Kumamoto Prefectural Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives. Clearly, most of the rush mat wholesalers from the other three production areas have engaged in import activities and participated in RMIA. This behavior has caused the fall in prices of low-grade rush mats produced in Kumamoto Prefecture after the mid-1980s.
As a result of these changes in the rush mat distribution system, the rush farmers in Kumamoto Prefecture have reacted rapidly. From a survey in Sencho Town, the farmers who own stable agricultural foundations have clearly continued rush production after 1990. However, many farmers have reduced rush cultivating areas, whereas a few farmers have expanded rush cultivation by introducing high-grade rush and dealing with the rush mat wholesalers directly. The farmers cannot easily switch their management to other crops because of the agricultural conditions in Sencho Town, so they are forced to continue rush production under the influx of imported rush mats.
Consequently, the behavior by the rush mat wholesalers has given rise to restructuring of the rush production area in Kumamoto Prefecture. This means that a small agribusiness like that of Japanese rush mat wholesalers has changed the behavior and influenced agricultural production areas, in a similar manner to that of large agribusinesses like general trading firms and food processors in Japan.

Key words: imported rush mat, agribusiness, rush mat wholesaler, rush production area, Kumamoto Prefecture

Conversion to the Catholic Religion of Rural Society in Postwar Japan:
A Case of Group Conversion in Saga Village, Kyoto

(Graduate student, Graduate school of Humanities and Social sciences, Kobe University)

The purpose of this paper is to consider the acceptance of religion at a village level. One condition under which a religion penetrates a population is during intellectual, spiritual and social instability. There are several confirmed periods during which Catholicism expanded in Japan. 1) The late Muromachi period when Francisco Xavier came to Japan until the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. 2) From the end of the Tokugawa shogunate until the Meiji modernization. 3) The period of GHQ rule in Japan after World War II. The case to be treated in this paper is the group conversion to Catholicism which happened at Saga village, Kyoto, in 1949 just after World War II.
This year holds an important meaning for Catholicism in Japan. The event that commemorated the 400th year since St. Francisco Xavier arrived in Japan and began missionary activity was held for about 2 weeks from May 29, 1949. For this event, メthe Holy armモ of St. Francisco Xavier was brought to Japan. The arm was unveiled at a solemn mass in Nagasaki, Nishinomiya and Tokyo. The solemn mass was publicized in newspapers on a large scale. There was a member of the Imperial Family who attended the mass in Nishinomiya. In this way, Christianity was given not only a good position in the religious world of Japan but also a good position in the environment of society and politics by the support of GHQ.
Group conversion began in Saga on April 17, 1949, when ten villagers were baptized. The number of people baptized reached 816 in 1949 or 28.7% of the village population. However, conversion rates differ among districts within the village. The reason for such a difference is because Saga village was formed in 1889 through the merger of several communities with differing customs, traditions and relationships. We can see that the unifying effect of communal bonds has a strong effect on the people’s attitude towards religion.
The second part of the analysis concerns the relation between blood relationship and conversion pattern. In terms of conversion or non-conversion of a householder, 150 householders were converted from 193 households. One of the characteristics of a household maintaining the Catholic faith to date is the conversion of the householder.
After the group conversion, there was only minimal friction between the Catholic religion and Buddhist temples related to ancestor’s cult. Rather, there was greater friction over a festival of a Shinto shrine which occurred among the village people (non-Catholics / Catholics). The reason is because a festival of a Shinto shrine is based on the solidarity or unity of a community, compared with an event of Buddhism such as a funeral which is related to ancestor cult which is a problem of a house unit.
As mentioned above, we can see that religion has the power to strengthen group ties. At the same time, religion can also emphasize the differences among groups. Religion can also be used to create new social relationships.

Key words: group conversion, Roman Catholicism, communal bond, blood relationship, ancestor cult, mortuary tablet, GHQ

The Politics of Geography and Political Geography

(Osaka City University)

This paper explores ‘the politics of geography,’ or the nature and problematic aspects of daily activities of geographers by examining cases in Anglophone political geography. Particular attention is paid to the four ‘incidents’ that became controversial among (political) geographers and can be considered informative for such an exploration. These incidents do not only concern conflicts and debates in academic journals over scholarly activities but also created various ‘sociological’ reactions from even outside of geography. Subject matters in political geography tend to be controversial because they often reflect the authors’ own political preferences and positionality. Whereas overt expressions of such preferences in / through academic journals may conflict with the journals’ ‘neutrality’ or ‘fairness,’ the journals themselves may direct their publication policy toward particular ‘political’ purposes. Most of the incidents became accidentally known to the author through John O’Loughlin, who has been an editor of the journal Political Geography since its foundation. Drawing on the experiences of O’Loughlin and Political Geography and without concluding that ‘everything is political,’ this paper attempts to reveal where and how ‘the political’ played out in those incidents and to provide a clue to a self-reflection on the socio-political implications of our daily academic activities.

Key words: geography, politics, political geography, debates, academic journal, John O’Loughlin

The Aging Population in the Suburbs of Metropolitan Tokyo

(School of Education, Waseda University)
ARAI Yoshio
(Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo)
(School of Literature, Senshu University)

This paper examines the mechanism of the aging of the population in the suburbs of Metropolitan Tokyo. Most suburban residents at this time are not greying, but a report based on a recent population projection which used the cohort component method indicates that these districts have a high probability of a rising population ratio of residents aged 65 and over.
Most ages of residents concentrate on particular cohorts, especially on residents who were born in the 1935-1955 period. Thus, an accelerated rise in this ratio is unavoidable as the population ages.
However, second-generation residents of these districts are showing particular patterns of migration.
For example: (1) Second-generation residents move out of their residential districts, and (2) new residents of the same second-generation age move into these districts.
In the suburbs of Metropolitan Tokyo, the residents mainly consist of cohorts born in the 1935-1955 period plus their children, and most of the residential districts belong to migration pattern (1). In the future, most of these districts will be occupied by first-generation residents, so the suburbs are expected to grey with their aging. Therefore, although aging progresses differently from district to district, a long-term perspective indicates that these processes seem more likely to be dominant in greying residential districts.
Already in some districts, those who leave are first-generation residents; thus it is difficult to maintain the infrastructure these areas require. As a result, empty houses and vacant parking spaces increase due to depopulation. The fear therefore arises that a population decrease will accelerate the frequency of moves to other districts by the residents of these areas.

Key words: aging population, population projection, Metropolitan Tokyo, suburbs

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