Bestowed with rich natural resources and a unique culture, Japan produces a potpourri of treasures ranging from fresh foods to exquisite traditional crafts. Beyond the stereotypical image of Japan lies a wealth of traditional wisdom passed down from generations, intricate craftsmanship and an ideology that would lead us to a sustainable future. 

However, Japan has been struggling to deal with depopulation in the rural areas, aging population and the decline of primary and traditional industries. For example, 60% of the municipalities in Japan will be halved in population by 2050, and the population of the people 65 years and above will increase from 25% (2014) to 50% (2040). The unipolar concentration of Japan’s population in Tokyo means that the suburbs and rural regions are declining rapidly in its population, economy and industry.

With the decline of the rural regions, we are losing our cultures, our connection with the environment, and our abilities to produce our own food and energy. This phenomenon is not just happening in Japan, but around the world. Many countries across the globe are experiencing something similar- the movement of populations from rural to urban areas leading to the decline of rural regions. 

Once again, this is not just a problem of rural regions losing its population, but we are talking about an irreversible loss of cultures and traditions, the destruction of nature due to disruption of ecosystems, and the disintegration of fabrics of society in these places.

In order to tackle this conundrum, there has been a trend of “regional revitalization” efforts going on in recent years. However, many of these efforts are targeted at the Japanese population. Although the Japanese population is declining rapidly, there has been a continuous expansion of the international community in Japan, including international students enrolled in Japanese universities, Japanese language schools and specialized institutes, as well as international tourists and even Japanese nationals with international backgrounds. 

We believe that, by injecting fresh perspectives and diversity from the international communities, we can provide new solutions to these problems. More importantly, we can share the challenges of the regions, the process of problem-solving, and the wisdom in the solutions with the world.

This is the what BOUNDLESS strives to achieve- to engage the international community in learning more about the charms and challenges of rural Japan, so as to create a global knowledge sharing platform.

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Sosei Partners is a project launched by BOUNDLESS. (Sosei comes from the Japanese phrase "chiho sosei", which means regional revitalization.) Through Sosei Partners, we aim to create a platform to empower the international community in Japan in order to contribute to the "regional revitalization" of Japan. 

More specifically, we create project teams consisting of international members in each major city around Japan. These project teams will then research about the unique cultures and innovative projects going on in the rural regions around the major city. We will then redesign the rural regions from fresh international perspectives, and come up with a new branding for the regions. 

The international members mainly consist of international students currently studying in Japan. The students will gain precious experiences exploring the true beauties of rural Japan, learn about the local cultures and traditional wisdom, and also contribute to the revitalization movement in Japan. Eventually, these students will become the connecting bridge between the rural regions and the world. 

The ultimate aim is to create a knowledge sharing platform where we share traditional wisdom and innovative projects in Japan with the world, as we head towards a common sustainable future.

For more information about Sosei Partners, please click here.