Session 3: “Revitalizing” the Local
Yumi Matsubara is an associate professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences at Waseda University. She has a Ph.D. in Welfare Management from Nihon Fukushi University, and obtained her MBA from the Graduate School of Business Administration at Keio University in 1994. Matsubara previously worked as a principal researcher and research director for financial think tanks. Currently, she specializes in management and policy on medical welfare. In addition to her academic posting, Matsubara sits on the Social Welfare Group and the Healthcare Group of the Social Security Council (Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare of Japan).
“Kurashi-no-Hokenshitsu” (infirmary for living) in Shinjyuku (Tokyo) is a place where anyone can consult with nurses about anything related to medical care and welfare, without reservation. “Kurashi-no-Hokenshitsu” is a counseling service center, a place where you can feel at ease and a place where isolated people can be connected with others. In other words, it is a place for community revitalisation. Despite being a free service, the importance of its activities is widespread, and there are voluntary Kurashi-no-Hokenshitsu in about 50 places throughout Japan. It happened naturally. It is akin to dandelion seeds being swept away by the wind and seeds blooming everywhere.
An organization called “Busshien” in Ishikawa prefecture, works with people with disabilities.They do farming with little manpower. In addition, they run multiple restaurants that sell their own crops and beer, providing a place to work not only for people with disabilities, but also for local residents. In 2014, the local beer “Nihonkai Club” made by people with disabilities in Busshien was awarded the “Brewery of the Year 2014”. This is considered to be the highest honor in the craft beer world. Previously, disabled people were supported by others, but now there has been a transformation. Busshien has now changed disabled people who now support the local community. Busshien made the welfare business essential in the community. Inspired by the efforts of Busshien, Hiroki Nishimura (35 years old) quit a large company in Tokyo and moved to Tottori prefecture in April 2021. He aims to start a business in the welfare field.
Above are just some of the new bottom-up welfare projects that are happening in Japan today. There are a number of reasons for these bottom-up projects : the resistance against the importance placed on economic growth; the resistance against measuring people who have higher productivity; and the emphasis on wellbeing. As the population declines sharply, this “creative resistance” is occurring throughout Japan simultaneously. It looks like the Renaissance in welfare.