In spring 2005, Hayakawa-cho in Yamanashi Prefecture decided in the legislature that it would not synoecize with other towns during the Special Mergers Law period. The reason being that a merger could increase the gapbetween the town and the metropolitan area as well as accelerate depopulation. We would like to note that this "no merger" decision was made by the town in light of a fear of an abridgment of its power and of a forced merger. The town considers environmental protection to be its major policy and established the Fourth Comprehensive Plan Japan Upstream Culture Zone Concept in 1994 to envision its future as a town well established in a local culture that had developed along an upstream river. In addition, the town founded the Japan Upper River Culture Institute in 1996 to surely and steadily realize this concept. The discussion regarding the special issues of intermediate and mountainous areas tends to focus on the conservation of public interest in national lands or on measures for disadvantaged areas. Hence, there was no precedent for the idea of town development based on the life and culture of an intermediate and mountainous area as a comprehensive plan for the local community, considering the coming turning point of the era. It is also rare for a town to establish a research center as an institute of practice. This approach is regarded to be an outline for the basic direction of future town development in intermediate and mountainous area.
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