Jul 10, 2021
[Column] As "KUROGO" of the young people who will create the future

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version
July 10th, 2021. Noyuri Mima

 After World War II, several students from Europe and the United States started an initiative called the Salzburg Global Seminar.

 They established a non-profit organization in Salzburg to discuss global issues beyond national and ethnic boundaries and expand human networks. Some of the past participants later became leaders of their countries, and their activities continue today.

 The seminar has about 30 programs a year, and I am participating in one of them. It will propose a feasible plan using emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence for living and livable communities.

 This program was originally supposed to be an intensive camp at Magome-juku in Gifu Prefecture for a few days last May. However, it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have been meeting online twice a month in groups.

 Our group has been discussing and researching the issues that Magome is facing, thinking that they can be applied to other areas as well. What we found Magome is facing problems such as low birthrate, aging population, increasing abandoned land, and the outflow of young people to big cities, as same as many regions in Japan.

 To solve these problems, they believe increasing income through tourism leads to attracting young people back to the area and leads to increasing the number of new immigrants from big cities in Japan. There are many similar proposals in various regions to save themselves is to build commercial facilities and cultural and educational facilities. However, the problem I think is none of these proposals are sustainable and realistic solutions.

 With the spread of infections since last year, many people have experienced remote work reduces commuting time and allows them to spend more time with their families. This experience has triggered some people to think about what true affluence is and reevaluate their lives, leading some to leave the city.

 We propose to start a collaboration with young people who were born and raised in Magome, but now live in other cities, and ask them to envision their ideal life in Magome 20 years from now. While preserving the good aspects of Magome, we should be able to utilize emerging and appropriate technologies.

 I recently gave a talk on “Designing Your Future, Designing Future Society” to high school students in Hakodate. The students wrote many positive feedbacks from their understanding of my talk, such as not choosing their future solely based on their strength or weakness in class subjects, and wanting to contribute to society by gaining interest in various things, gaining experience, and developing the ability to think.

 Just as the seminar started by young people more than 70 years ago is still going on today, it is the young people who will create the future of Hokkaido, Japan, and the world. I believe our role as adults is to support them in various situations, acting as a KUROGO, a stagehand dressed in black who assists the actors in various ways during the performance such as Kabuki, to their activities.