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Supporting regional revitalization with a global perspective

Highlight 2. For the Community, With the Community

Kyushu's population, currently at 13 million, is projected to decrease by 10 percent by 2030.
Many challenges stand in the way of revitalizing a region that accounts for 30 percent of all municipalities nationwide that contain isolated islands in their jurisdiction.
But there are members who have begun to act with faith in a brighter tomorrow.
Fuji Xerox Kyushu, the company's regional sales headquarters, is working together with Fuji Xerox and sales companies and dealers throughout Kyushu to support regional revitalization under the motto "For the Community, With the Community." These support initiatives are activating communication throughout the region and taking steady steps forward with the support of local residents.

No. of depopulated municipalities (Nationwide)
Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, "List of Depopulated Areas and Municipalities" (as of April 1, 2015) Calculation based on "Changes in the Number of Municipalities by Prefectures" (as of April 5, 2014), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
797
(percentage of total municipalities in Japan: 46.4%)
No. of depopulated municipalities (Kyushu)
Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, "List of Depopulated Areas and Municipalities" (as of April 1, 2015) Calculation based on "Changes in the Number of Municipalities by Prefectures" (as of April 5, 2014), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
144
(percentage of total municipalities in seven Kyushu prefectures: 61.8%)
Municipalities that contain isolated islands in their jurisdiction (Nationwide)
Source: Center for Research and Promotion of Japanese Islands, "Annual Statistical Report on Remote Islands" (2013)
139 municipalities
Municipalities that contain isolated islands in their jurisdiction (Seven prefectures in Kyushu)
Source: Center for Research and Promotion of Japanese Islands, "Annual Statistical Report on Remote Islands" (2013)
46 municipalities
(33% of total municipalities in Japan)
Municipalities that contain isolated islands in their jurisdiction (Fuji Xerox Kyushu's service area: Seven Kyushu prefectures, Yamaguchi and Okinawa prefectures)
Source: Center for Research and Promotion of Japanese Islands, "Annual Statistical Report on Remote Islands" (2013)
75 municipalities
(54% of total municipalities in Japan)

Uniting Kyushu with Audio Guide Service

Yoichi Sarukawa
Group Manager
Kyushu Regional Solution SE Group
of the Solutions & Services
Marketing Department No. 2
Fuji Xerox Kyushu

Fuji Xerox is engaged in regional revitalization support activities in all industrial sectors with a special emphasis on tourism and human resources development (education). Communication technologies are at the core of such activities, which are now beginning to produce positive results in all fields, helped along by government programs for regional revitalization. Leading the charge is a certain project now being implemented in Kyushu.

Fuji Xerox Kyushu is one of six regional sales headquarters established throughout Japan in July 2012 to provide local customers with solutions and services that are tailored to their specific needs. Fuji Xerox Kyushu has taken remarkable steps under the leadership of President Shinichi Miyazaki in contributing to regional development. One such project features an Audio Guide Service for tourists. In April 2013, Miyazaki began mulling the possibilities of focusing on tourism to formulate regional revitalization initiatives designed specifically for Kyushu. His mind made up, Miyazaki ordered Yoichi Sarukawa, Group Manager, Kyushu Regional Solution SE Group of the Solutions and Services Marketing Department No. 2, to carry out market studies and look into possible solutions.

What emerged from the study was a GPS-linked Audio Guide Service. As a tourist approaches a guide point, an audio guide is automatically triggered and a voice is heard from a handheld terminal. The Communication Design Office of the Research and Technology Group has been working on this technology for many years. Eventually, their efforts produced a dedicated terminal that was made available to tourists in Kamakura, Oiso and other major tourist sites in the Kanto area, where it received excellent reviews. In July 2013, the New Business Development released the product as an Audio Guide Service. As the release coincided with the rapid proliferation of smartphones, work quickly started on a new smartphone-based system, the SkyDesk Media Trek (released in January 2014). The product was based on the idea that while users of dedicated terminals are likely to be limited, a smartphone app can deliver exciting services to people all over the globe.

Acting on Miyazaki's instructions, Sarukawa and his group of four began visiting a wide variety of tourism-related locations, from local railway lines to government offices, and tourist facilities. But they were always met with the same comment, "Why is Fuji Xerox venturing into this field instead of copy machines?" "We want to be of use by providing communication-related services and solutions," the team members answered persistently as they searched for new possibilities. No significant progress was made while this went on for a whole year.

Things began to change in the early summer of 2014. A customer testing the system in the hot springs of the Kansai area suggested a visit to Kurokawa Hot Springs in Kumamoto Prefecture. A walking event gave permission for trial use, and this led to the team's first contract in June.

"Kurokawa Hot Springs signed up with you?"

The impact was immediate as people everywhere began to take note of the crowd-gathering potential of the new tool. The audio guide, available bilingually in Japanese and English, could tout the charms of local sites beyond anything that guidebooks and maps could hope to do. As luck would have it, the influx of foreign visitors was increasing dramatically and the race was on to welcome the flood of tourists. Against this backdrop, Kita-Kyushu City (Fukuoka Prefecture), the Nishi-Nippon Railroad Company, Nakama City (Fukuoka Prefecture), Tamana City (Kumamoto Prefecture), Iki City (Nagasaki Prefecture), and Kirishima City (Kagoshima Prefecture) adopted the Audio Guide Service in quick succession. Currently, the service is available in nine areas and coverage is continuing to expand.

Suppose you want to market your agricultural products or attract tourists. In Japan's outlying areas, multilingual presentation and reaching overseas audiences present daunting challenges. A newly developed smartphone app now makes it possible to get rid of these barriers. Local communities have many promising resources. What appears mundane to locals may be extremely attractive to outsiders. Local communities are also home to a lot of priceless information. Our task is to highlight these resources and create social infrastructure for tourism.

"Most of the areas have only recently started using our system. But already we are receiving glowing reports about satisfied foreign visitors. More importantly, we are really impressed by the requests for a broader range of contents. We certainly want to respond to customer expectations and we are definitely excited by the possibilities to contribute to regional development by expanding the coverage of the system to the whole of Kyushu. It would be great to develop a 'unified Kyushu guide' that reaches across prefectures and raises the level of excitement and activity for all of Kyushu." (Sarukawa)

Overview of the GPS-Linked Audio Guide Service

Building a Future for Iki through Dialogue

The Audio Guide Service was adopted by Iki City in April 2016. But this is not the only thing that links Fuji Xerox to this area.

Iki-na Mirai Zukuri Project is generating new hope among residents of Iki City. As a citizen-led initiative, the project aims to attract more tourists, foster new industries that contribute to population growth, and develop a more comfortable living environment. After identifying the community's real issues through dialogue, the residents formulated themes and lines of action for overcoming the challenges that they had specified. This approach has empowered residents to take the lead in solving problems and has given momentum to a cycle of citizen-led community revitalization activities.

Residents were initially hesitant about engaging in the first process of dialogue meetings, which involves methods designed to draw out the true feelings of participants. But as soon as one person started speaking from the heart, others were encouraged to follow suit.

Hideto Yuzawa
Communication Technology
Laboratory
Research and Technology Group,
Fuji Xerox

"These dialogues provided an opportunity for people to look back on their own experiences and realize what has been most important to them through their lives. Listening to what has been important for others led to a sense of empathy and connection. Then it was a question of waiting until ideas started to come to the surface regarding issues that people are personally motivated to tackle now. This process led to the emergence of new topics," says Hideto Yuzawa, member of the Communication Technology Laboratory of the Fuji Xerox Research and Technology Group. Yuzawa explains that this approach is founded on multiple global theories and draws on Zen philosophy as well. The project has gained a lot from the experiences of the Tono Mirai Zukuri CollegeNote 1, where residents are taking the initiative to design their own communities.

A total of nine themes were identified in five dialogue meetings held between November 2015 and March 2016. These included "Iki–Island for Learning," "Iki Pilgrimage," and "Revitalizing Farming in Iki." Although participation was voluntary, the five meetings drew a total of 609 participants. The majority were local residents but there were also 90 people representing out-of-prefecture companies. What surprised Iki Mayor Hirokazu Shirakawa and other organizers more than anything else was that more than half of the citizen participants were students, most of whom were local high school students.

  • Note 1 Tono Mirai Zukuri College: Learning site launched in 2014 to contribute to community and industry development and human resources development in Tono City and its surroundings.
    The College is jointly operated by Fuji Xerox and Tono City in Iwate Prefecture.
Tokuhiro Takashita
General Manager
Regional Marketing
Fuji Xerox Kyushu

"It was great to see so much youthful energy, with local high school students coming forward to moderate the dialogue meetings and helping out in lots of ways," says General Manager Tokuhiro Takashita of the Fuji Xerox Kyushu Regional Marketing. Takashita, who serves as leader for the Iki project, was excited to hear Issei Shinohara of the Iki City Hall say ambitiously: "We want to make Iki a model for how Japan's remote islands can become forward-looking and progressive." Shinohara, who serves as the manager of the Regional Promotion Division, was totally serious. Takashita took the case directly to President Miyazaki and pleaded, "Please let me work on the Iki project." As soon as his request was granted, Takashita moved to Iki Island where he now says he has a palpable sense of the changes taking place in the community.

One of the themes of the project is "Iki–Island for Learning," and a study program entitled "Iki Study Group on Changing How We Work in the Future" has been launched as part of this theme. Participants in the study group have commented on what they learned from a walk rally designed for people to experience the power to transform themselves through problem-solving and how this sensitized them to change. "The rally taught me the importance of stopping to think things over after putting aside the biases and hubris that comes from past experiences." "It's amazing how the same route takes on a completely different appearance when you approach it from a different perspective." Human resources armed with this fresh awareness become valuable assets for the community and begin to play a positive role in changing the community.

"Although we have just started, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could gradually develop a vision for the future that awaits us," says a high school student who is project leader for another one of the themes–"Greet Your Neighbor to Energize the Community." Takashita smiles as he watches the student hoist a placard to cheer participants in a walk rally, recognizing it as a sign of a strong desire to get personally involved in changing the future. "What gives me the greatest joy are the sincere expressions of thanks I get from high school students I've never met before for having moved to Iki Island. That is exactly the precious moment that I become aware that local residents devise solutions for regional revitalization," Takashita says with emotion.

High school students cheer the walk rally participants
Local residents and other participants who became aware of their power to transform themselves in the ancient surroundings of Iki Island and are now looking to the future

Accelerating support for globalization from Kyushu

In addition to developing tourism resources and helping communities design their future, Fuji Xerox is currently involved in a number of multifaceted support projects in Kyushu tailored to meet local and regional needs. These include support for local businesses participating in overseas business negotiations, internationalization support for universities and corporate personnel featuring internship programs at Fuji Xerox's overseas sites, and support for SME manufacturing activities. Fuji Xerox is already planning to add new programs in the years ahead.

The business negotiations support program that started in early 2015 already counts four successful cases of promoting global outreach by Kyushu companies. One case involved a tie-up with a major regional bank to match the bank's corporate clients with local companies in Thailand. In another case, Fuji Xerox Kyushu organized business meetings in South Korea and Taiwan specifically for local companies in Iki.

In certain cases, synergy effects are emerging among multiple projects, helping to provide solutions ideally suited to local needs. For example, the demonstration of the Audio Guide Service in one business meeting attracted the interest of local companies.

Activities for designing the future of communities are also spreading widely. Following on from the project in Iki, Shiiba Village located in Miyazaki Prefecture has decided to move forward with a similar project. Fuji Xerox members are now preparing for the launch.

Fuji Xerox's support for regional revitalization in Kyushu has only just begun, but the broad range of projects in tourism, industry, human resources development, and global outreach is making local communities shine. The same glow is readily seen in Fuji Xerox employees who accompany the local communities in their quest.

Business meeting in Taiwan held by Fuji Xerox to support local businesses

Hirokazu Shirakawa
Mayor of Iki City

The population of Iki City peaked in 1955 at 52,000 but has since steadily declined and is just 28,000 today. The hope for Iki is that 70 to 80 percent of the young people who leave the island to study or work elsewhere say they want to return eventually. The participation of so many high school students in the Iki-na Mirai Zukuri Project is probably an expression of their strong desire to play a direct role in changing the hometown that they love so well. The fact that the project is led by citizens and not by government agencies provides many useful hints on how to energize Japan's remote islands.

Being a remote island means Iki has to grapple with the handicap of high transport costs. But that does not override the amazing potential for development that lies in its tourism resources led by the 1,000 or so shrines of all sizes and the breathtaking natural beauty of the island. Nor does it detract from the island's wealth of agricultural and fishery resources, the fact that it is located only an hour away from Fukuoka, the availability of information and communication technologies, and the existence of various sports venues and facilities. There is no doubt that Iki is an "island of manifold harvests." We know these harvests will go far in driving the development of Iki. But we also hope that Fuji Xerox will make full use of Iki to fuel its own growth so that both can reap plentiful future harvests. How wonderful that would be.

Shinichi Miyazaki
President,
Fuji Xerox Kyushu

Helping regions and companies solve their difficulties and supporting regions and companies in carrying out what they want to achieve - at Fuji Xerox Kyushu we are now committed to a serious engagement with these aims.

Population decline is already a reality in all but a few areas of Kyushu. The revitalization of regions and companies is naturally an important issue for Kyushu as a whole. At Fuji Xerox Kyushu we are determined that we must do everything we can to help address this issue, in order to ensure continued growth of our business in these regions in the future.

As a company we have used our communications technology to provide a variety of services to our customers, and have achieved positive results. It would be unthinkable not to put these to use to contribute to energize regions and companies. We started efforts in this direction several years ago. Today, we continue to assist local governments and companies on topics relating to regional revitalization, with our efforts based around the Customer Business Support Centers established in each of our sales companies in the Kyushu region.

Agriculture, tourism, remote islands, and depopulation, small-and- medium-sized enterprises and the manufacturing sector in northern Kyushu–these are all key terms for revitalization efforts in Kyushu, along with Kyushu as the gateway to Asia. In cooperation and collaboration with our affiliated companies in Kyushu, along with a wide array of companies, local government offices, and universities that share our ideals, we will continue to work hard to produce ideas, and will continue to strive to contribute to the revitalization of the region.

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