Countryside Democracy in Japan and Germany: Trends in Political Participation
The effects of demographic change and structural transformation are particularly visible in rural areas in Japan and Germany. As a result, "revitalizing" rural communities has become a common political goal: Young people in particular are to be convinced to stay or move to the area. There are many reasons for or against living in rural areas. These include the question of citizens’ agency: What opportunities do they have to participate and to be heard - at the local level itself, but also with regards to effects on regional and national decision-making processes. In other words: How visible is vital democracy in rural regions? What opportunities for co-determination and political participation open up "on the periphery", especially for younger people - and what obstacles are evident? Do the specificities of political involvement differ from those in urban centers such as Tokyo or Berlin? In what directions is the repertoire of political and social participation currently evolving, for example through digital forms of involvement? Do people resort to more "conventional" channels or are "untypical" channels becoming more popular – as e.g. a local network of young female farmers that promotes a new way of rural life by organizing fashion shows or business cooperatives. Is the trend even moving towards "lifestyle participation"? Are we currently witnessing an increasing "disenchantment with politics" and is non-participation becoming more and more apparent? To what extent do civic education offerings contribute to a vibrant culture of participation in rural areas in Japan and Germany?
These questions will be explored by the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) in its third event of the JDZB series "The Future of Democracy" together with the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) Tokyo. Experts and political activists from Japan and Germany will be engaged in a dialogue to identify opportunities, trends, and challenges as well as similarities and differences between the two countries, with a special emphasis on the participation of younger people. The JDZB is thus continuing its thematic focus on local, rural areas, as it did with the events in January (“The Future of Food – A Japanese-German Dialogue”) and February („Urban-Rural Migration in Japan and Europe: Transnational and Comparative Perspectives“) 2023.
In cooperation with DIJ (German Institute for Japanese Studies)
Photo from Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash