Fachgruppensitzung Stadt- und Regionalforschung 2018

The ambiguity of kizuna: The dynamics of social ties and the role of local culture for community building in post-3.11 Japan (Julia GERSTER, FU Berlin)

At the 11th of March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and washed away whole cities in northeastern Japan. Thousands of the former residents had to be evacuated due to the nuclear contamination and the loss of their former homes. Nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, the survivors performed local traditions, festivals, and emphasized the symbolic meaning of local cuisine.

Drawing on Gidden´s theory of structuration and the concept of translocality, this dissertation investigates the role of local culture for community building in a domestic setting of forced migration. The following are the research questions which underpin this thesis: Why do disaster survivors turn to culture after such devastating events? How do they employ local cultural patterns for community-building and how do the different aspects of the 3.11 disasters, namely the consequences of the tsunami and the consequences of the nuclear disaster, influence the effects of local culture for community building?

To understand the different impacts caused by the nuclear disaster and the earthquake and tsunami on the social dynamics within the affected communities, the responses of evacuees from Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture are compared to those of evacuees from Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture, located only four kilometers away from the damaged nuclear power plant. Data from a year of ethnographic field research in the disaster-stricken regions as well as 175 semi-structured interviews have been analyzed with a focus on the influence of cultural concepts such as kizuna (human bonds) and furusato (home), local festivals and events, and local food culture on the dynamics of social ties within the affected communities.

It has been found that the way local cultural aspects are used for community building among domestically displaced people strongly resembles strategies of transnational migrants for structuring their everyday lives and their communities. Due to the experience of the disaster, however, additional categories significant for the creation of a collective identity of the evacuees from Natori and Namie have to be considered. The most important are variations in the experience of loss and perceptions of risk and affectedness. Furthermore, it became evident that aspects of local culture and sociality are promoted as unique to the places affected by disaster as a means for regional revitalization. As such these strategies remind of revitalization measures which have been employed for decades. Whereas the employment and marketization of local culture seem to work for the case of Natori which has been mainly affected by the tsunami, communities like Namie in Fukushima Prefecture face additional challenges. The ambiguities connected to the hazards of radiation and the stigmatization that goes along with it lead to ongoing debates on recovery and a division of the concerned communities because they affect the core aspects significant for community building. With the analysis mentioned above, this dissertation aims to contribute to a better understanding of the role of culture for post-disaster recovery as well as community building within domestic displacement; and the different impacts of nuclear and natural hazards.

The reconstruction of Dejima – Perspectives for the city of Nagasaki (Thomas STÄRZ, LMU München)

Dejima war eine 1636 fertiggestellte fächerförmige, künstliche Insel im Hafen von Nagasaki. Von 1641 bis 1859 befand sich dort eine niederländische Faktorei, die zugleich der einzige westliche Handelsposten in Japan während der Zeit der Landesabschließung und ein Ort des kulturellen und wissenschaftlichen Austausches war. Nach der Auflösung des Handelspostens ging Dejima in der ausländischen Niederlassung auf und wurde schließlich von der in das Hafenbecken hineinwachsenden Stadt geschluckt. 1922 wurde die historische Stätte der ehemaligen niederländischen Faktorei (Dejima Oranda Shōkan ato 出島和蘭商館跡) als staatlich designierte historische Stätte (kunishitei shiseki 国指定史跡) bestimmt. Seit 1951 wird die Stätte rekonstruiert. Die Anstrengungen, Dejima vollständig so zu rekonstruieren, wie es im frühen 19. Jahrhundert war, dauern an.

Das Ziel des Promotionsprojekts ist es, die Implikationen und Bedeutungen, die dieses Schutz- und Rekonstruktionsprojekt für die Beteiligten und Betroffenen, sowie für die Stadt als Ganzes hat, zu ergründen. Als Forschungsmethoden werden die Analyse von schriftlichen Dokumenten, sowie die Analyse von qualitativen Interviews und Beobachtungsdaten, die während zweier Feldforschungsaufenthalte in Nagasaki (10.2013 und 04.2016 – 03.2018) erhoben wurden, angewendet. Durch das Ergründen dessen, wie die Rekonstruktion einer solch symbolisch aufgeladenen historischen Stätte, wie Dejima es ist, eine historisch so vielschichtige Stadt, wie Nagasaki, prägt, wird der Versuch unternommen aufzuzeigen, welche Chancen und Implikationen der Schutz, sowie die Rekonstruktion von historischen Stätten im urbanen Raum im Allgemeinen und für mit demographischen und wirtschaftlichen Herausforderungen konfrontierten Städte wie Nagasaki im Speziellen birgt.

Governing the “Man-Made Disaster” – Town-Building and Local Self-Governance in the Peripheries of Amalgamated Municipalities in Japan (Hanno JENTZSCH, DIJ Tokyo)

This paper draws on participatory observation and interviews in the former village of Minami-Shinano (now Iida City, Nagano Prefecture) to analyze change and continuity of local self-governance institutions in rural and peri-urban Japan. The Heisei wave of municipal mergers (2002-2006) has pushed many former towns and villages to the peripheries of larger municipalities. These peripheries often face exceptionally high aging rates and a lack of work opportunities, schools, or welfare services. Against this background, the government pushes for the creation of so called „regional self-management organizations“ (chiiki unei soshiki, 地域運営組織). Iida City has served as a model case for this development, with a longstanding system of civic self-governance and „town-making“ (machizukuri, 街づくり) on the level of its 20 districts.

Minami-Shinano has become one of these districts in 2005. Since the merger, aging and depopulation in the village accelerated, not least because the former village government was a major local employer. The self-governing institutions imported from Iida City are struggling with the task of „revitalizing“ the shrinking village, with limited funding and a lack of political clout within the larger municipality. Field research has shown that these institutions crucially rely on the integration of preexisting local social structures (e.g. hamlets, neighborhood associations). On the one hand, this supports local embedding and legitimacy of the new form of self-governance. On the other hand, it reinforces the preexisting local social structure, including problems like the aging of local stakeholders and limited participation of younger residents and women. More generally, the case enhances the theoretical understanding of the role of „traditional“ institutions in the ongoing process of building and renegotiating local governance in Japan’s peripheries.

Communicating Risk to the Fish Market at the Center of the world (Anne-Sophie KÖNIG, Universität Hamburg)

The topic of my research project is risk communication. Specifically, I look at the relocation of the Tsukiji Wholesale Market (from here on: Tsukiji) in Tōkyō to the district Toyosu. In 2016 Governor Koike Yuriko (2016 – present) put a highly contested stop to the almost finished relocation procedures because of lacking safety measurements against the ground pollution of the new site. This stop added to the discontent of the workers employed at the market of whom a majority were opposed to the project since the beginning. After a new assessment and additional safety measurements the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) finally relocated the market in October 2018. The central question of my thesis is: Why has the relocation of Tsukiji been so divisive?

I argue that the poor risk communication of the TMG led to diverging opinions concerning the relocation. To analyze risk communication by a state actor I borrow from Chen’s model of evaluating risk communication (ibd. 2008). In this model effective risk communication is interlinked with generating trust. The empirical data I base my analysis on are an open interview questionnaire with intermediate wholesalers of marine and agricultural products in Tsukiji and semi-structured interviews with experts I conducted in winter 2017/2018. I am currently doing a qualitative content analysis of newspapers, newsletters, websites, activists’ blogs, pamphlets and exhibition materials. Further I will analyze my field notes and pictures from participant observation at guided tours of the market facilities in Tsukiji and Toyosu.

Based on academic literature and newspaper analysis I developed the following hypothesis I would like to discuss at the Fachgruppe. Tsukiji has a strong symbolic value and relocation is rejected by opposing stakeholders for emotional rather than rational reasons. Preliminary findings show a gap between the results of the analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data. For example, newspaper articles emphasize the emotional attachment of the workers on the market to Tsukiji as a place. On the other hand, in the questionnaire mainly rational reasons like financial burdens where mentioned.