Is Rural Japan Sustainable? Past, Present and Future of Community-based Endeavors
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 11:01 AM

We are a team of scholars who share a passion about the past, present and future sustainability of Japanese society, with a particular interest in food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry issues and how these intersect with Japanese rural communities. To that end, we are issuing a call for papers on these topics (see the rationale statement below) for presentation at a virtual symposium on October 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 2021. Scholars from around the world are invited to send an Abstract of Interest of not more than 500 words by June 15, 2021 to [email protected]. Based upon our review of these abstracts, invitations will be sent for completed papers that will be presented during the symposium. Our long-term goal is to critically review and select these submissions for publication in an edited volume on this topic sometime in 2022.


Japan is facing challenges that are similar to those being addressed by other countries around the world, although the constellation of these challenges in Japan poses unique difficulties and opportunities. For example, Japan’s astounding pace of aging, wherein 40 percent of its population will be 65 years of age or older by 2060, and heavy dependence on imported foods, with 60 percent of food calories consumed by the Japanese people coming from abroad, are contributing to a sense that rural Japan may be facing a major sustainability crisis. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 has aggravated this sense of “crisis” and leads to questions of how environmental, health and social risks might be mitigated. Analyses of how these challenges are being addressed in local Japanese communities could not only influence ongoing dialogues about how to improve in quality of life in Japan, but also contribute to illuminating common global challenges and possibilities for sustainable development in other parts of the world.

We are asking scholars who are conducting, or who have recently conducted empirical work in Japan on innovative community-based approaches to transforming food, agriculture, forestry, and fishery to submit abstracts on their work for consideration for presentation in a virtual symposium this fall. We are particularly interested in presentations that highlight how everyday people are approaching local development challenges and opportunities. Thematically, these empirical studies could be framed within a variety of conceptual approaches, including, but not limited to:

  • a loss of trust in the political economic system;
  • issues of power and powerlessness;
  • top-down versus bottom-up development strategies;
  • concerns about the future viability of rural Japan;
  • local conflicts about development strategies and future visions; and
  • creative and innovative approaches to empowering communities, conflict resolutions within the community, and addressing challenges.

Abstracts are due by June 15, and authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by July 1, 2021. Once accepted, the authors will be invited to submit a full manuscript by September 1 for presentation at the symposium. Selected presentations will be considered for publication in an edited book volume.


6/15 Abstract of a paper
7/1 Notification of the accepted abstracts
9/1 Submission of a full manuscript for presentation


Raymond Jussaume, Michigan State University ([email protected]) Kiyohiko Sakamoto, Ryukoku University ([email protected]) Midori Hiraga, Kyoto Tachibana University ([email protected]) Keiko Tanaka, University of Kentucky ([email protected])