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A history of the Kamikita pilot farm settlement from 1956 to 1985 : Interviews with early settlers in the Aomori Prefecture


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  • 上北パイロット・ファーム入植者の戦後経験 : 青森県東北町・六ヶ所村における現地聞き取り調査から
  • カミキタ パイロット ・ ファーム ニュウショクシャ ノ センゴ ケイケン : アオモリケン トウホクマチ ・ ロッカショムラ ニ オケル ゲンチ キキトリ チョウサ カラ

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In the mid-1950s the Japanese Government initiated the Konsen and Kamikita Pilot Farm Projects. These projects were large agricultural development initiatives prompted by a World Bank loan extended to Japan. The purpose of both projects was to reclaim extensive uncultivated areas in northern Japan (the Hokkaido and Aomori Prefectures) with the goal of creating mixed farming based on modern western models. The Konsen Pilot Farm Project in eastern Hokkaido was well known nationally at that time and has since developed into Japan's most significant dairy farming region. The Kamikita Pilot Farm Project in the Aomori Prefecture, however, is now nearly forgotten. In June and October 2018, we conducted intensive interviews with some of the early Kamikita Pilot Farm settlers in Tohoku-machi and Rokkasho-mura, the central areas of this project. Based on the result of our interviews, we describe their historical experience in detail. These descriptions specifically focus on three topics: occupational careers before settlement; the development path of each village from 1956 to 1985; and how farming was influenced by the so-called "Mutsu-Ogawara" Project, a large national industrial development project that commenced in 1971. On the whole, we developed two conclusions. The first is that upland cash crop production, such as the cultivation of rapeseed, exerted a strong influence on the Kamikita Pilot Farm, especially compared with Konsen. The second conclusion is that the Mutsu-Ogawara Project and scale expansion of dairy farm after 1970 years caused the divergence in development paths in each village. In addition, we present the following three findings. First, two types of farming strategies existed from the beginning that continued for a ten-year period. Some settlers made an effort to establish their dairy farms by forming their cooperative society as a tractor service station. In contrast, others gave up dairy farming early on and devoted themselves to growing cash crops. At the end of this period, the number of individuals who abandoned farming increased, with a concurrent increase in seasonal migration to Tokyo. Second, that the Mutsu-Ogawara Project caused forced migration of settlers living within the development zone is well-known. It did, however, allow settlers living outside the zone to obtain government loans more easily. Thus, they were able to invest in constructing modern cowsheds, while it became more difficult to expand pasture land due to the increasing price of land. Finally, most male settlers were natives of Kamikita but were younger sons and would not inherit their parents' property. In addition, before the settlement that occurred in 1956, many settlers had been migrant fishermen in Hokkaido, agricultural laborers on large family farms, or day laborers on rural engineering projects. Thus, their background was more fitting with what we would designate as "proletarian-habitus." It was difficult for these individuals to acquire the skills required to manage dairy farming, much less absorb the technical instruction offered by government extension services, a curriculum that was not always satisfactory or appropriate for these settlers.


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