Theoretical implication of current social problems in Japan to the studies of the commons

Makoto Inoue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Japan has been facing unprecedented social challenges in recent years. This is evidenced by a declining population and birth rate, increasing economic stratification, a changing household structure, public health issues associated with an increasing number of dementia patients, deteriorating local communities, increasing number of unoccupied/vacant houses, increasing number of absentee landowners, including even unknown owners of the vacant houses and lands. To cope with such problems, many actors, including both nongovernmental organizations and local and national governments, have been examining various solutions. In theory, such trials reflect a situation where ownership is weakened while usufruct rights are strengthened and are certainly based on the concept of deformed “soyu” ownership or a sort of joint-ownership that is a basis for “iriai” (commons entrance) rights. Deformed or contemporary “soyu” ownership might serve as a framework for land management under declining and aging population. Expected attributes with which the main actors of contemporary “soyu” ownership will be endowed are excerpted: (1) Management and labor are not separated but integrated, (2) Admission to and withdrawal from the organization are limited, and (3) Decision-making should be done democratically. Although the issues are presently faced in Japan, these challenges will soon be shared by many other countries around the world, even in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNatural Resource Governance in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Collective Action to Resilience Thinking
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780323857291
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 1


  • Aging
  • Depopulation
  • Social class
  • Unknown landowner
  • Vacant houses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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