Crisis thinking in regional Japan – the case study of Kamaishi City

Key information

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle), London NW1 4QP

About this event

Prof Naofumi Nakamura (University of Tokyo)
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WG Beasley Memorial Lecture 2020

Prof Naofumi Nakamura (University of Tokyo) will present 'Crisis thinking in regional Japan: Responses to Depopulation, Industrial Restructuring and Natural Disasters in Post-war Era – the case study of Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture'

Kamaishi in the 1930s


This lecture examines the crises facing post-war regional Japan, taking Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture as a case study. It goes without saying that Kamaishi City faced a series of watershed movements historical specific to the locality. However, Kamaishi city also had to deal with a strata of crises common to all provincial cities in postwar Japan: depopulation, decline of key industries, and emergencies precipitated by natural disasters and wars. The amalgam of the different crises strata complicated and hindered the response of regional communities to the changing economic and political landscape of post-high growth Japan.

Kamaishi in the 2000s

In the 1960s and 70s, Kamaishi was as a thriving city boasting a population of around 80.000 people—home to the Kamaishi Steel Works, deep-sea fishing operations, and Japan’s strongest rugby team. However, the subsequent contraction of the steel works and waning of the deep-sea fishing industry led to a steep decline in population. It should be noted that population decline has persisted since the closure of the steel work’s foundry in 1989. Today, Kamaishi is a small rural city with a population of 36,000 facing a chronic crisis of depopulation. The March 2011 tsunami and Great East Japan Earthquake brought new urgency to the issues of chronic depopulation and economic restructuring to Kamaishi and the surrounding areas. Kamaishi provides us with an appropriate case study for examining how regional communities have attempted to respond to the key crises facing all of regional post-war Japan: depopulation, industrial restructuring and natural disasters. In this lecture, I take Kamaishi as a case study to investigate crisis thinking in post-war regional Japan – the policies and actions of both the public and private sectors in their pursuit to find solutions to depopulation, economic restructuring, and disaster readiness.

Speaker Biography

Naofumi Nakamura is Professor in Business and Economic History at the Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo. He obtained a Ph.D. in history from Kyushu University in 1997. He has been conducting a general community survey at Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, from 2006 to present.

Music Performance

Professor Nakamura’s focus on Kamaishi City has led members of the SOAS Min’yō Group to learn two folk songs from that town, which they will perform at this event: “Kamaishi Hama Uta” and “Kamaishi Jinku”.

The group’s founder, David Hughes (JRC Research Associate), has often researched traditional music in Iwate, and since the 3/11 disaster he has visited Kamaishi twice, delighted to see some positive developments.

Both songs, which pre-date the disaster, focus on the town’s importance as a fishing port. We hope, of course, that its fishing industry can fully recover.

Three to five members of SOAS Min’yō Group will perform, including at least David, Hibiki Ichikawa, and Akari Mochizuki.


If you would like to attend the event please register. Online registration

Sponsor: The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893