Regional Studies

Publication List of this Subject

This study group examined the significance of technology transfer in promoting regional development. Two regions taken up for the study were Sanjo and Tsubame cities in Niigata prefecture and Hokkaido. An additional subject investigated by the study group was the education provided for farmers in rural areas.

Sanjo and Tsubame had been famous for their production of Japanese nails prior to the Meiji period. However, circumstances changed drastically after the importation of Western nails and the two centers were deprived of their traditional markets. The cities struggled to find new lines of metal goods. Finally Tsubame became world known as a producer of Western-style tableware while Sanjo specialized in producing carpentry tools and sharp-edged metal implements such as knives and scissors.

Hokkaido, being the last frontier of Japan, had been a major concern of the government’s regional development policy since the Meiji Restoration (1868). With abundant natural resources, virgin land, and a cold climate, Hokkaido was considered to be an area very different from other parts of Japan. Nevertheless, sustained development gradually narrowed the disparity between Hokkaido and the rest of the country, particularly after the establishment of the railroad network throughout the island. Another aspect of Hokkaido’s development was the cultivation of rice. Progress in rice breeding technology in Hokkaido led to the introduction of rice species that could be grown in a cold climate. It is worth noting that these species contributed to the development of high-yielding rice varieties in the 1960s.

The land reform undertaken just after the Second World War transformed prewar tenants into land-owning farmers. Around this time, Ken Namie, who devoted his life to the education of farmers, was appalled to find that there existed virtually no agricultural manuals that were written specifically for farmers. He describes in his report how he endeavored, through close personal communication with farmers, to write a number of technical handbooks on agriculture.