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Community Capacity and Governance – New Approaches to Development and Evaluation

by Banyai, Cindy Lyn, PhD

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maturity of community capacity, well-being, and the economic development of Himeshima, he is
an external stakeholder to Himeshima and therefore his efforts are reflected as a network agent
here. Through his political networks, Nishimura was also able to keep the local administration in
Himeshima aware of potential national and prefectural funding opportunities for their
development projects. Nishimura’s network leadership in Himeshima contributed to the early
economic development of this island, as well as the introduction of other individual leaders and
the establishment of the prawn cultivation industry, which has become a leading organization on
the island. The era of Mayor Kumao Fujimoto 1960 – 1984

After the salt fields were abolished in 1959, it was necessary for the community to find other
income generating activities. The community decided to pursue prawn cultivation after studying
the potential of their island using these guiding concepts: a) the promotion of local industries
instead of salt fields, b) finding employment for salt field workers, and c) utilizing the former salt
fields (Fujimoto 2008a, p. 1). The Himeshima Fish Culture Corporation was established in 1960
with local capital, but faced financial difficulty in its first years of operation (Fujimoto 2008a, p.

When the initial endeavors into prawn cultivation were faltering, Nishimura again assisted
Himeshima by introducing Dr. Motosaku Fujinaga, a leading prawn expert, to the situation. Dr.
Fujinaga consulted with the early Himeshima Fish Culture Corporation on ways that they could
improve their business and merged with the Inland Sea Fishery Development Corporation in
1963 (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 1). Unfortunately, this new private company again had trouble with
the fledgling prawn cultivation technology and went defunct in two years.

In order to sustain the development of the island the mayor, Kumao Fujimoto, helped to
persuade the people to continue along the path of development through prawn cultivation. Mayor
Kumao Fujimoto told the community “prawn culture must not be withdrawn from this island…I
want to continue this business by all means. I’m sure of our success (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 2).” He
coordinated local investors, the local administration, and Mr. Nishimura to establish a publicprivate
enterprise, the Himeshima Prawn Cultivation Corporation (HPCC) in 1965 (Fujimoto,
2008b, p. 2) on the heels of the failure of the previous prawn company. Mayor Kumao Fujimoto
also urged the community to persevere with the statement “if this business fails, Himeshima will
collapse. We have to succeed by all means (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 4).” The HPCC rehired
employees of the former private corporation, and invited technical experts to strengthen their
production and feeding systems (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 2).

The road to success of the HPCC was not easy. The business struggled until 1976 when there
was an introduction of new technology (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 2). HPCC experienced another
challenging period until 1980 (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 3). Mayor Kumao Fujimoto installed Izumi
Yamashita, a long-time employee of the company, as president of the HPPC in 1981 after he
returned from a one-year study on prawn cultivation. Yamashita disseminated his knowledge of
productive cultivation throughout the HPCC (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 3). Through his leadership the
practices of the company were changed for the better and the thinking of the employees changed
to reflect those of employees in a private enterprise, rather than an organization that relies on the
government. Yamashita led the company to earn its distinction as a pioneer OVOP community
and a prominent force in the prawn market by 1981(Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 3).


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During this period of economic development, Himeshima also made some initial progress in
improving the standard of living on the island. Their aim was to make life in Himeshima like
life on the mainland. It should be noted, that Mayor Kumao Fujimoto had the intention of
making Himeshima a reasonable place to live, without extravagance. This is reflected in the
simple, but comfortable buildings and houses on the island.

The main achievements in terms of infrastructure and services include the underwater
electricity cable to the mainland in 1965, a ground water supply system established in 1966, and
roads that were widened and paved with links to the fishing ports constructed starting from the
1960s (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 1). However, the current mayor, Akio Fujimoto, feels that the most
significant advancement in the standard of living on the island came with the establishment of
the ferry, which is administered by the village government, in 1972 (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 2).
This is because it allowed both people and products to have regular and easy access to the
mainland, including the local airport, which increased access to national markets. Additional
community development initiatives during this period include the recruitment of a resident
doctor in 1983 (Fujimoto, 2008b, pp. 3-4). These tasks were undertaken either solely by the
local government, or in collaboration with the national government ministries or outside

Another unique feature of community life on Himeshima emerged under the inspiration of
Mayor Kumao Fujimoto was work sharing. Work sharing, as it is envisioned on Himeshima, is a
system where many employees are maintained at a low salary (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 5). This
system was introduced in the early 1970s to prevent further depopulation of the island by
providing an opportunity for as many people as possible to be employed within a minute total
expenditure of the local government (Fujimoto, 2009). Table 11 shows the policy structure of
Himeshima with some highlighted aspects of the economic development period.


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End Outcomes

Table - Himeshima's policy structure (actions) under Mayor Kumao Fujimoto

Outcomes Outputs Activities Inputs

Standard of
living similar to
the mainland

Migration of

Famous brand
of prawns

Products hold
large market
sway in

OVOP award

Identity as

Livable income


Improved social

Fish products for

Himeshima brand
of prawn

High quality

Prawn Cultivation



Better access to

Local access to

Coastal fishing

Create publicprivate


Work sharing

Build physical

electricity cable

Construct water

Establish ferry

Natural resources

Prawn cultivation
skills and

commitment to
prawn cultivation

Concept of work

political network

National and


Source: Author

In comparison to the period before development, the policy structure of the economic
development period is more robust, complex, and sophisticated. The injections of funding from
the national government did contribute to the development of the prawn industry, and the
determination of the mayor and the local investors in the HPCC ensured the company’s eventual
success and secured a sustainable living for people on the island.

Through working with external networks and with the finances that were earned by the
public-private HPCC, the local government was able to pursue their goals of infrastructure
development and service delivery to make life on the island similar to life on the mainland. This
era of economic development in Himeshima was largely driven by the government and
coordinated by local Agents with strong external political networks.


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The activities that the people in Himeshima undertook as a part of their prawn cultivation
endeavor served to fortify their community capacity, as well as provide for economic
sustainability. Table 12 describes the genesis of Himeshima’s community capacity during the
period of economic development.

Sense of Community


Table - Himeshima’s community capacity attributes under Mayor Kumao Fujimoto

Ability to set and achieve

Ability to recognize and access

Identity as prawn producers
Work Sharing
Pride from famous OVOP brand
Vision to make life on Himeshima similar to life on the
Commitment to prawn cultivation as mode of
Commitment of HPCC to producing high quality prawns
Established prawn company and successful OVOP brand
Made improvements in infrastructure and services
Accomplished goal to improve living standard
Recognized convertibility of salt fields and value of sea
Networked to gain skills and technology in prawn
cultivation and funds for development

Source: Author

The sense of community in Himeshima began to become more articulated as the mayor
helped to establish the vision of the community to “make life on the island like that of the
mainland through the cultivation of prawns (Fujimoto, 2008a, p. 1).” The people then began to
view their identity as prawn producers, shifting from their identity as salt producers. Their
prawn production brought them accolades as an OVOP product and forceful market brand, which
helped to instill a sense of pride in the community.

The concept of work sharing that was introduced during this era also served to help bring the
people of Himeshima closer together through the recognition of mutual circumstance and the
need to sacrifice high salaries in order for other members of the community to be able to have a
quality standard of living.

The sense of community that grew in Himeshima served to increase the commitment to
prawn cultivation by the employees, investors, and other members of the community. This
commitment to prawn cultivation then allowed the HPCC to grow into a viable company that
offered much to its employees and the village, as well as become a dominant market force due to
their commitment to quality products.

Himeshima’s ability to set and achieve objectives is apparent through the success in
establishing the HPCC through public-private partnership. The income generated by the people
and for the village through tax collection, as well as the networks to access external development
funds then allowed the local government to fulfill its vision to improve the standard of living by
providing the necessary services and infrastructure developments.

Himeshima had previously recognized its abundant natural resource, the sea, and continued
to innovate new uses of this resource. They also were committed to using the abandoned salt


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fields for income generating activities, which demonstrated the community’s ability to recognize
a resource that may have not been entirely apparent. Aside from the natural resources on the
island, the community was able to access their political and social networks, particular those of
Kumao Fujimoto and Eichi Nishimura, to bring in knowledge, new technologies, and financial
resources to pursue their goals.

Table 13 shows the various agents that became important during the period of economic
development in Himeshima. Compared to the agents that were active before development, the
period of economic development shows a marked increase in the quantity and type of agents.
These agents, like the policy structure, and the community capacity, become more diverse and
productive as the A-A-A cycle progresses.




Table - Community agents in Himeshima under Mayor Kumao Fujimoto

Kumao Fujimoto
Izumi Yamashita
Dr. Fujinaga
Himeshima Prawn Cultivation Corporation
Himeshima Women’s Association
Local government
Fujimoto’s political networks
Nishimura’s personal and political networks

Source: Author

The commitment of Mayor Kumao Fujimoto to the idea of development through prawn
cultivation inspired the people of Himeshima to try once again, thus revealing his position as a
true leader. He was able to connect with Nishimura and then utilize the development funds that
were available through that political network.

Through his coordination of the HPCC, Kumao Fujimoto put various other community
members from the public and private spheres into leadership positions, such as Yamashita and
Fujinaga. The leadership of Kumao Fujimoto fostered the leadership of Yamashita, and in turn,
the leadership of Yamashita led to the prominence and leadership of the HPCC, as well as
leadership among its employees. It can be seen that proactive leadership begets other instances
of leadership and can help formulate organizations to become prominent community agents as
well. This is where the transition from singular instances of leadership begin to progress into
community leadership.

Similar to the period before Mayor Kumao Fujimoto, Nishimura was able to use his
knowledge and connections (business and interpersonal networks) to bring experts and additional
leaders to the community to help establish their prawn cultivation industry. This makes him
again an external stakeholder in Himeshima and a network leader.

The Himeshima Women’s Association is also active during this time helping to bring the
people of Himeshima some comfort and social development. Their activities filled a particularly
important need during this time, because most of the activities of the local government were
concerned with the physical development of the island.

Both the HPCC and the local bureaucracy further contribute to the development of
community leadership through their practice of work sharing. Work sharing can be considered
community leadership because it is a process through which people carry out the idea of
community livelihood and has definitely had an influence both on how the people of Himeshima


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live and see themselves in relation to other communities. It also happens within the group
context of the municipal organizations and the HPCC, and moves the community members of
Himeshima toward attaining their goals (see Northouse, 2004).

The work sharing system of Himeshima enables the members to take pride in their
community, fortify the relationships and commitment to the community’s success and vision, as
well as achieve their community objectives by tapping their given resources: their human
resources. Work sharing as a mode of community leadership thus contributes to the growth of
community capacity in Himeshima through allowing many community members to be active
community agents.

Although great advancements in the development of Himeshima were made during this
period, and life there became comparable to life on the mainland, the village still experienced
depopulation as a result of gentrification, low birth rates and the desire of the youth to work at
higher paying jobs in big cities. Clearly, development is a process that never ceases. The next
discussion focuses on the most recent attempts at revitalization in Himeshima. The era of Mayor Akio Fujimoto 1984 – present

Mayor Akio Fujimoto took off where his father left off to improve the living conditions on
Himeshima. Some of the development activities accomplished during his tenure include a can
deposit system in 1984, the establishment of an elderly assistance center in 1991, and the
construction of a sewage system in 1992 (Fujimoto, 2008b, pp. 3-4). Much advancement to the
state of health care was made during the early part of Mayor A. Fujimoto’s term, resulting from
the budget reallocation that was possible because of the frugal efforts of the municipal staff to
reduce the cost of maintenance at municipal hall.

Product promotion was still important during this time. The people on Himeshima decided
to host festivals to promote their products and bring visitors to their island. The flat fish festival
is held annually in May, and the prawn festival is held in October. Producers, local government
officials, and local organizations, such as the Women’s Association and the fishing cooperative,
participate in the festivals. The prawn festival and the flat fish festival in combination with the
Bon festival in August also provide an attraction to draw tourists to the island.

While Himeshima enjoyed a period of economic success through the 1980s and 1990s, the
village again fell into decline as the population steadily eroded from ageing and urban migration.
A new approach to the economic sustainability of Himeshima was taken, this time linking the
local industries with tourism through ‘Blue Tourism.’

The project entitled the Himeshima Revitalization project is a three-year project running
from 2006 to 2008 and is subsidized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication and
the Oita Prefectural Government. Mayor A. Fujimoto decided to utilize the funding available for
rural revitalization and convened a work group to implement the project and manage the funds.
The local work group, Harikomou-kai, consists of 30 representatives of the local government,
local businesses and community members (Itai, 2008). Interestingly, ‘harikomou’ is the local
Himeshima dialect for the Japanese term ‘ganbare’, which translates as ‘let’s give it our best!’
(Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 7).

The local administration of Himeshima consulted with the project participants and
formulated a multi-faceted approach to enact the project. Sustainable development of the village
and future economic growth are the main goals of the project, as well as an improvement of the


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social condition of the village through cooperative actions. Their overall goal is to create “an
island where residents are filled with happiness (Fujimoto, 2008a).”

Harikomou-kai acts as the facilitator for the revitalization project by commissioning research
trips, organizing trainings, and providing a forum through which participants and residents can
voice their opinion and become involved. The group decided to use technology for the
promotion of tourism in Himeshima; subsequently, they are providing Internet training for local
entrepreneurs and have created a new website to promote and display all they have to offer via
the Internet. Various research expeditions have been conducted to find unique local products
and traditions, local food cultivation, and to map the tourist areas. The findings of these studies
help the residents of Himeshima understand the local resources at their disposal and facilitate the
development of their respective industries (Harikomou-kai, 2008, p. 2).

In order to better prepare tourism operators on the island to accommodate tourists, the travel
company Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) was tapped to provide hospitality training. JTB also acts as
a marketing connector for the burgeoning tourism industry on the island by offering package
tours to Himeshima (Fujimoto, 2008).

Work sharing continued into the era of Mayor Akio Fujimoto as well. Currently, there are
184 municipal employees, most of who work for the municipal clinic and the ferry service.
Additionally, the 65 employees of the HPCC are employed under the same concept of work
sharing (Fujimoto, 2008b, p. 5). Himeshima remained an independent municipality, despite the
trend of rural municipality mergers in the early 21st century, largely because they were unwilling
to compromise their work sharing system (Fujimoto, 2008a). The people of Himeshima were
also worried about weakening their solidarity (Fujimoto, 2008b, p.6).

There are organizations that help to color the social life and solidify the connection between
the people, such as the Himeshima Women’s Association. Although the group had been more
active in the past, currently this 500 plus strong group organization takes part in nearly every
event and activity on the island. They focus on social activities, such as preparing costumes and
makeup for the annual Bon festival children’s dance and promoting public awareness campaigns
such as the ‘My Chopsticks’ campaign to reduce the use disposable wooden chopsticks (Daikai,

The organization has several official positions, board members, and also places members in
observer positions to oversee the welfare of their neighbors in each district (Daikai, 2008). The
women’s group helps to spread the messages, lessons, and visions of the people, by focusing
public awareness campaigns, largely on environmental conservation, on the island’s children
(Daikai, 2008).

The group has a laissez-fare approach to the recruitment of members, the collection of dues,
and recruiting activity participants. The organization does little in regards to these matters, yet
has no problems collecting fees or finding members or activity participants, as well as no
problems with corruption within the organization itself. Mrs. Satomi Daikai, the chief board
member of the organization, attributes this to the desires of the group members to avoid conflict
paired with the encouragement of members to only become involved in the activities that interest
them. Mrs. Daikai said that the group members “do the things they like and the things that they
are proud of,” thinking of obtaining money as secondary to these thoughts (2008).

Table 14 shows the current policy structure of Himeshima organized in a logical framework.


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Table - Himeshima's policy structure (actions) under Mayor Akio Fujimoto
End Outcomes Intermediate
Outcomes Outputs Activities Inputs
An island filled with
happiness through
cooperative actions
Future economic
Stable income
Well known flat fish
Well known prawns
Pride in local products
Comfortable living
Establish Himeshima
as a unique tourist
Develop tourist
Cultivate local
products and traditions
Well-educated and
adapted children
Community Leadership
Products for market
Annual Flatfish
Annual Prawn
Coastal fishing
Work sharing
Sea resources
Fishing skills
Prawn cultivation
Cleaner environment
Better access to health
Establish can
deposit system
sewer system
Build elderly
Village funds
Prefectural funds
National funds
Skills in tourism
Increased human
Identified unique
local products,
traditions, local foods
Map of tourist areas
Increased amount of
Blue Tourism
Build website
Village funds
Prefectural funds
National funds
Tourism trainers
Natural resources
Bon Festival
Women’s resources
Source: Author
The current policy structure is much more complicated than those during the previous
periods of development, reflecting a greater capacity of the community, more varied outputs, and
more sophisticated outcomes. The community in Himeshima has progressed to be able to take
on more diverse and complex matters. The revitalization was driven by the residents and
organizations of Himeshima, rather than by individual leaders or external actors as the prior
periods of development had been.

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Table 15 is a breakdown of the current community capacity of Himeshima. Like the policy
structure table, it is more robust and varied than the previous time period’s on Himeshima; thus
reinforcing the principle that community activities help to fortify community capacity and vice

Sense of Community


Table - Community capacity attributes of Himeshima under Mayor Akio Fujimoto

Ability to set and achieve

Ability to recognize and access

An island filled with happiness through
cooperative actions
Blue Tourism
Volunteer spirit
High amounts of participation through
work sharing and community activities
Residents recognize themselves as
stakeholders and take action accordingly
Harikomou-kai’s activities
Local administration coordinates new
Himeshima Women’s Association
Blue Tourism project
Studied area to find uniqueness
Linked tourism with prawn cultivation
and fishing
Accessed political networks for funds

Source: Author

Clearly working together to sustain life on Himeshima is very important to the village
residents and has become an integral part of their identity. The sense of community on
Himeshima has expanded beyond that of being prominent fishers and prawn cultivators to
include the desire to become an attractive tourist destination. They have expanded their vision
from merely making life on their island comparable to the mainland to making it a place where
the residents can live contented lives by working together. Solidarity is an important component
of the sense of community of Himeshima and can been seen through their non-participation in
the government merger, work sharing, and the activities of the Women’s Association. The
festivals provide local producers the opportunity to proudly display their goods and give the
people in the community a reason to strive for high quality products. The festivals are activities
through which the people in the community come together to display and celebrate the
uniqueness of their community.

The diligence of the community members and their pride in work sharing is something that
contributes to the overall sense of community in Himeshima. The work sharing concept is
interesting because it seems to ‘equalize’ people for all intents and purposes, because the salary
discrepancy from the richest to the poorest on Himeshima is quite small, most people trading
extravagance for the continued livelihood of the island and the well-being of their neighbor.


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Even the mayor, Akio Fujimoto, takes part in the work sharing and still works diligently,
attending to his office duties and functions regularly, even on the day of the municipal election,
as if it were any other day (Fujimoto, 2008a). Work sharing displays the commitment that the
people of Himeshima have to their community.

Furthermore, the community leadership of the Himeshima Women’s Association contributes
to the community capacity of Himeshima because the group supports the overall community
vision of making the island a place to live filled with happiness and amends that vision by adding
‘through a volunteer spirit’ (Daikai, 2008). The activities of the group are a testament to the
commitment of the community members of Himeshima, as well as setting and achieving both
community and group objectives, and the recognition of the resources of Himeshima, particularly
the skills of women and the elderly. The Himeshima Women’s Association embodies the
characteristics of community leadership and further emboldens community capacity.

The commitment of the community can be clearly seen through the practice of work sharing,
the membership of the women’s organization, and the various activities that are conducted
around the island. It can be said that the people there now truly do see themselves as
stakeholders in the development and other activities of Himeshima and take action accordingly.

Himeshima now has a better ability to set and achieve objectives, which can be seen through
the activities that are conducted for social reasons, for development, as well as livelihood
activities. There are also a multitude of actors involved in the setting and achieving of objectives
on the island, which is also indicative of a progression of the community capacity cycle.

During this period of revitalization on Himeshima, the community became better aware of
the resources at their disposal. Previously, the focus had primarily been on sea products and
subsequently on prawn cultivation. Currently, through the exploration of the island’s resources
in conjunction with the Blue Tourism efforts, many latent resources were uncovered, such as
migratory butterflies. This diversification of resource identification further points to a more
robust community capacity.

Table 16 displays some of the most prominent current community agents of Himeshima.




Table - Community agents of under Mayor Akio Fujimoto

Community members
Akio Fujimoto
Women’s group board members
Women’s group district officers
Local government
Himeshima Women’s Association
Himeshima Prawn Cultivation Company
Fishing cooperative
Himeshima Women’s Association
Prefectural and national Women’s
Association Network
A. Fujimoto’s political networks
JTB’s market network

Source: Author


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