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2009年11月24日 (火)

集落を守る―補助金よりも助っ人で

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 23(IHT/Asahi: November 24,2009)
EDITORIAL: Preserving rural areas.
集落を守る―補助金よりも助っ人で

The mountainous Irokawa district in Nachi-Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, is in the southeastern part of the Kii Peninsula. It is made up of nine secluded settlements that depend mainly on farming and forestry activities.
 紀伊半島南東部の山間地、和歌山県那智勝浦町の色川地域。農林業を中心に九つの集落がひっそりと点在する。

Nearly 40 percent of the 430 or so residents used to be city dwellers. Kazuo Hara, who heads a regional development committee comprising the heads of the settlements, moved from Hyogo Prefecture at age 26. That was 28 years ago.
 約430人の住民のうち4割近くは都会からこの地に移り住んだ「Iターン組」である。集落の区長たちでつくる色川地域振興推進委員会の会長を務める原和男さんも、28年前、26歳の時に兵庫県から移り住んだ。

In 2007, the committee started an education program to train young people outside Nachi-Katsuura to become farmers. Last year, the panel started compiling a written record on life in the region. The committee members are learning the ins and outs from local residents of farm work and how to create traditional food dishes. They are also collecting information about local events and customs over the years. The information is being compiled into a booklet.
 その委員会が町外の若者を集め、一昨年から「百姓養成塾」を、さらに昨年からは「むらの教科書づくり」を始めた。地元の人から野良仕事や伝統食づくりを学び、伝統行事や昔の暮らしを聞き取って冊子にまとめている。

Migration to Irokawa started more than three decades ago after the local community accepted five families that wanted to try their hands at organic farming. Initially, most of the new residents were would-be farmers sharing the same ideals.
Over time, however, different types, like retirees wanting to spend their twilight years in the country and families with young children, have moved to the Irokawa district. The influx of newcomers has helped preserve this area's traditional way of life. But the future of the community is under threat due to the rapid aging of society and the dwindling birthrates.
 Iターンの始まりは30年以上前、有機農業をめざす5家族を受け入れたことだった。当初は同じ道を志す人が多かったが、しだいに田舎暮らしを求める年金暮らしや子育て世代が増えた。そうして何とか集落を守ってきたところに、少子高齢化の波が押し寄せた。

The average age of the original Irokawa residents is 69, and that of newcomers is 40. The settlements will eventually disappear unless young people plant roots there. A sense of crisis prompted Irokawa to try to attract more young people to the area.
 住民の平均年齢は、もとからの住民が69歳、Iターン組も40歳。このまま若い担い手がいなくなれば集落は消えてしまう。新たな危機感から、若者の呼び込みに動いた。

"We need young people willing to live here as committed members of the community, instead of simple support from the outside," says Hara. He regards one program adopted by another town in the prefecture as ideal for luring young people. Koya, located at the northern tip of the Kii Peninsula, has introduced a program to hire outsiders to help promote regional development.
「外から支援するのではなく、住民と同じ目線で暮らす若者がほしい」と原さんは語る。
 そんな原さんが「理想的」とみている制度がある。同じ紀伊半島の北端にある和歌山県高野町が導入した「むらづくり支援員」だ。

In May, the town government solicited applications for three positions, offering a monthly wage of 150,000 yen for 100 flexible working hours a month under a three-year contract. The town received 162 applications--many more than it expected.
 報酬は月15万円、月100時間のフレックスタイム制で契約は3年。今年5月、こんな条件で支援員3人を公募すると、全国から予想を超える162人の応募があった。

Five new recruits in their 20s up to 40s have moved from Tokyo, Kagoshima and elsewhere to live in settlements in Koya. They are trying to find ways to tackle various challenges, for example, by creating a system to support old people and developing new local specialties.
採用された20~40代の男女5人は、東京や鹿児島などから担当する集落に移り住んだ。高齢者を支える仕組みや新しい特産品づくりなど集落ごとの課題をさぐっている。

The program is the brainchild of Kanji Takahashi, Koya's deputy mayor. "We hope they will find solutions to these challenges and continue living in the settlements after their three years are up," Takahashi says.
 発案した高橋寛治・副町長は「そうした課題の解決策を見いだし、3年後は自分も定住できるようになってもらいたい」と語る。

According to a survey by the central government, about 2,600 of the roughly 62,000 settlements in cities, towns and villages nationwide are in danger of disappearing.
 政府が調査したところ、全国の市町村の下にある約6万2千の集落のうち、消滅する可能性のある集落は約2600もあるという。

On the other hand, there are many city dwellers who want to leave the hurlyburly of city life if they can. These are people who want to raise their children close to nature and seek a spiritually rich life--even at the expense of having less money to live on. Others simply want to spend their retirement years in a rural, laid-back environment.
 一方で、機会があれば、あくせくした都会から離れたいと考えている人は少なくない。自然の中で子育てをしたい。給料が減っても心豊かな生活がほしい。定年後は田舎でゆったり……。

Local communities and governments need to figure out how to attract such urbanites to their areas. Outsiders who are willing to support local development are more important for the survival of local communities than state subsidies. The wisdom and stimulus provided by outsiders can generate energy to move communities from within. Thus, outsiders could be entrusted with the role of planners for regional development.
 そんな都会の人たちを引きつけるには、そこで暮らす人や地元の自治体がまず知恵をしぼることであり、地域を守るには補助金よりも助っ人ということではないか。外からの知恵や刺激を受けることで、地域を内部から動かすエネルギーを生み出す。地域づくりのプランナーの役割を託してもいい。

Efforts similar to those described above are being made in many parts of the nation. The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which has pledged to promote decentralization, should pay more attention to these developments.
 紹介したような試みは各地にある。「地域主権」を掲げる鳩山政権はこんなところにも目を向けるべきだろう。

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