Innovators Network

April 2017—March 2019

Iwate, Niigata, Ehime and Shimane, Japan; West Virginia, Ohio, Nebraska and New York, USA

With a low birthrate, an aging society, and the decline of primary and local industries, the situation in regional areas in Japan has been dire for some time. In fact, the rising inequality across many sectors between urban areas and non-urban areas is a relevant topic in many developed and developing nations, as they are experiencing similar demographic and economic changes. This shift is also affecting communities throughout the United States, although not as dramatically as in Japan.

To reduce this gap, Japan Society and the Japan NPO Center are joining forces for Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities in Japan and the U.S. to bring together leaders in Japan and the U.S. dedicated to the revitalization of rural areas and small towns experiencing economic stagnation and declining population. Leaders from the U.S. will visit Niigata, Iwate, Shimane and Ehime Prefectures in October 2018. Leaders from Japan visited West Virginia, Ohio and Nebraska in October 2017. Through the sharing of best practices that build back community resilience and vibrancy, the project contributes to leadership development through a unique international learning exchange and experience, and strengthens the work and impact of the participants’ organizations and their communities.

Essays by American Participants

Political Participation and Prosperity in Rural Japan, by Johnathan Hladik [English, Japanese]

Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities 2018, by Savanna Lyons [English, Japanese]

Are Small Rural Communities Doomed?, by Richard McCarthy [English, Japanese]

The Future of Japan: Women, Food and Health, by Connie Reimers-Hild [English, Japanese]

Lessons from Abroad: The Essence of a Community and a Commitment to Place, by Taylor Stuckert [English, Japanese]

Essays by Japanese Participants

What I Want to Try in Japan, by Atsuhisa Emori [English, Japanese]

What a Small Town in Japan Learned in Appalachia, by Kenji Hayashi [English, Japanese]

What Makes a Good (Rural) Town?, by Ryoko Sato [English, Japanese]

The Promised Land, by Tsuyoshi Sekihara [English, Japanese]

My Visit to the U.S., by Junichi Tamura [English, Japanese]


Solutions for Depopulation Disseminating from Joetsu, Joetsu Times [PDF]

Rural lessons to be shared from neighbors a world apart, Omaha World-Herald [PDF]

Japanese, W.Va. entrepreneurs find common ground in growth challenges, The Herald-Dispatch [PDF]

Hospital, BCom Solutions Share Expertise with Rural Japanese Innovators, Nemaha County Herald [PDF]

Center for Rural Affairs hosts Japanese delegation, The Lyons Mirror-Sun [PDF]

Are Rural Communities Doomed? Changemakers Say No!, Niigata Nippo [PDF]


Challenges in Regional Revitalization: Insights from American and Japanese Rural Innovators (In Japanese)
At Sacred Heart Global Plaza at the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Japan

Are Rural Communities Doomed? Changemakers Say No!

A Thriving Rural Future in Japan and the U.S.
At the Rural Futures Institute, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

RFI Connects “Fierce” Rural Innovators From Japan and Nebraska
At the Rural Futures Institute, University of Nebraska, Lincoln


  Atsuhisa Emori
General Manager, Nippon Taberu Journal League
Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture

  Kenji Hayashi
Co-President, FoundingBase
Tsuwano, Shimane Prefecture

  Johnathan Hladik
Director, Policy Programs, Center for Rural Affairs
Lyons, Nebraska

  Savanna Lyons
Principal, May Day Consulting and Design
Huntington, West Virginia

  Richard McCarthy
Executive Director, Slow Food USA
Brooklyn, New York

  Connie Reimers-Hild
Interim Executive Director, Rural Futures Institute, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska

  Ryoko Sato
Associate Professor, Ehime University
Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture

  Tsuyoshi Sekihara
Representative, Soma Office, Regional Resource and Industry Advisor; Founder & former Executive Director, Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club
Joetsu, Niigata Precture

  Taylor Stuckert
AICP, Executive Director, Clinton County Regional Planning Commission & Co-founder, Energize Clinton County
Wilmington, Ohio

  Junichi Tamura
Chief Director, Next Commons Lab & Director, Tono Brewing Company
Tono, Iwate Prefecture

Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities in Japan and the U.S. is supported by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas) and R&R Consulting.

Transportation assistance is provided by ANA HOLDINGS, INC. and United Airlines.

Calendar of Events

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