Diet Members' Group Meeting in Hokuryu Town (Hokkaido) [No.3] Round-Table Meeting with Mr. Tatsuya Uei and Exchange of Views

Friday, September 25, 2020

After meeting with Honoka, we moved to Restaurant Windmill in Sunflower Park Hokuryu Hot Springs to meet with Mr. Tatsuya Uei, who is engaged in self-supporting forestry in Hokuryu Town.

Sunflower Park Hokuryu Hot Spring "Hokuryu Gate
Tatsuya Uei exchanging business cards

Discussion on self-supporting forestry

Discussion at Restaurant Windmill

Paper Rep:Regarding self-supporting forestry, I learned that forestry is not only about logging, but also about forestry with the awareness of preserving nature and creating mountains.

First of all, can you tell us how you came to be involved in self-supporting forestry?

Tatsuya Uei in conversation

▷ Mr. Kamii:I have always loved nature and was interested in forestry, and when I researched it, I learned about a new form of forestry. I had my doubts when I heard that the forestry industry was losing money even though it was earning its wealth from nature. Then I learned about self-logging forestry and realized that this would be a way to protect nature.

At university, I studied about wildlife, especially about Ezo deer. After that, I spent two years as an apprentice at Shiraoi's Onishi Forestry Co.

I loved nature, and another reason was my desire to live in the forest. Furthermore, I also did not want to be employed and wanted to work with my own sense of style.

I was working for Onishi Forestry until the end of last year, when I resigned and looked for a mountain. The mountain in Hokuryu-cho met my requirements. I purchased the mountain in January of this year, moved in April, and started my forestry business.

We are using the grant for forest and mountain village multifunctional measures, we have put in a work road in 3 years, firewood as a base, various other things, use of birch bark (birch bark is very strong and we feel it has potential), baskets woven from birch bark, birch roots, bamboo leaf tea, maple syrup, etc., etc., etc. . We would also like to discover various values in the forest, such as chopping wood, catching stag beetles, and gathering wild vegetables from the Yatibuki.

Since there are still some broadleaf trees left in the mountains of Hokkaido, we would like to create sustainable mountains that are resilient to natural disasters. We would like to make use of standing dead larch, which would normally be thrown away.

We are thinking of focusing on the production of materials that are difficult and difficult to work with, and providing materials for the production of processed products to housewives and others who would like to do so.

Information to be sent to Inst.

Question:Are you and your wife working together?

▷ Mr. Kamii:In fact, the group is a prerequisite for receiving the grant. We are working with a couple from Numata Town, a person from Shintotsukawa, and others who are interested in forestry. My wife is also a member.

Paper Rep:The number of people practicing self-logging forestry is increasing in Japan. Since many of them are young people and the work is dangerous, we need to learn what it takes to make it work. What kind of support do you need?

▷ Mr. Kamii:Everyone who wants forestry work wants the mountains, and the mountains are waiting for them. Matching these people with the mountains is an important point.

Active discussion!

Question:The current forestry industry is cutting down the mountains and turning them into bald mountains, which will collapse with a thud when heavy rains or typhoons hit. There are mountains here and there where it gets into agricultural water and rice paddies. I have my doubts about excessive development. What are your thoughts on this point?

▷ Mr. Kamii:Excessive development is the movement of earth and sand, isn't it? For Japanese people to live, there is soil and rocks of the earth, forests, animals, etc. live, and rain falls on them and water flows and pours into the sea. Therefore, I feel that soil and rocks are an important foundation, so why throw away the soil?

Paper Rep:Can you own a mountain and make ends meet in a self-supporting forestry business?

Everyone eager to talk about self-lumbering forestry

▷ Mr. Kamii:We haven't gotten any results yet, so now we just have to stay positive and do our best. There is so much to do. There are endless things to think about, such as brushing up on the wisdom of the ancients and creating something new. If we can give shape to them one by one, I think the overall result will be great. I hope we can revive the old with the new.

Kazuo Kimura (Director, Kuro Sengoku Business Cooperative):I have a mountain in Ichinosawa next to Mr. Uei's mountain in Shodosawa, about 40 towns away, but I have not touched it at all so far. There are many small trees and deciduous forests that have not been touched for more than 40 years, and they are a treasure trove. I hope to somehow connect with interested young people.

▷ Mr. Kamii:In the case of small foresters, we get together as a group and act as a support system, going back and forth to help each other, taking turns helping each other in each other's mountains. Everyone likes and is motivated, so they can work efficiently.

Paper Rep:In the Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028) set forth by the United Nations, it is important to work with family farming, not in the direction of large-scale farming, but in keeping with the reality of nature and protecting nature. There is also an international trend to review the way we have been doing things.

In this context, it is important for people in the self-supporting forestry industry to fulfill their respective roles. At a recent meeting, people from the forestry industry, farmers, and foresters came together to discuss the 10 years of family farming in cooperation with each other.

Question:When you build a work path, do you rent heavy equipment?

▷ Mr. Kamii:The heavy equipment has been rented at a low cost, thankfully with the support of a local construction company.

Question:What are your thoughts on interactions with other industries?

▷ Mr. Kamii:We are looking for exchanges not only between self-supporting forestry businesses, but also with other industries and with the local construction industry. We are currently devising various connections, such as processed products using mountain materials.

Paper Rep:I was surprised to hear that the people who work at the foot of Mt. Teine collect the leaves of broadleaf trees and take them to the zoo to feed the elephants, and I was surprised to learn that they can also be used in that way. The dead leaves are also used as fertilizer.

Opinion:In the city, there is a linkage with the fishing industry and the idea that the richness of the ocean is linked to the richness of the forest.

Question:Do you have a policy on tree thinning, Mr. Uei?

▷ Mr. Kamii:Trees left in the forest will work hard and grow strong on their own, absorbing nutrients from water and light. The policy of tree thinning does not have to be so rigidly set; if each person thinks about it and thinning is done appropriately, the trees will grow well on their own by the power of nature.

Councilor Tamura:I have actually been involved in forestry myself, and we have done thinning where we leave 70% of the trees. The mountains taught me the exquisite way of thinning trees: if the trees touch each other, they will be damaged, if they cannot photosynthesize properly, they will not be able to grow, and if they cannot see the blue sky, they will not be able to talk.

It is wonderful that you believe in the life force of trees and are doing your best to properly regenerate nature. I am very happy that you are putting this into practice at such a young age as Mr. Uei.

Paper Rep:Shimokawa Town is a town-wide forest town. Everything is connected, and there is a series of processes including town planning, the Chamber of Commerce, the forestry cooperative, consumers, and a hot spring that uses leftover wood after thinning as a heat source (woody biomass energy).

We have "forestry specialists" who specialize in what trees are used for. They use trees as raw materials for civil engineering materials, wood vinegar, aroma oil, etc., and use all the resources they can find. I think it would be good to interact with such people. We hope that the future will be on the right track.

Roundtable meeting with Ms. Tomoko Kami, Member of the House of Councillors, and Mr. Takaaki Tamura, Member of the House of Representatives

After the meeting, a "Roundtable Meeting with Ms. Tomoko Kami, a member of the House of Councilors, and Mr. Takaaki Tamura, a member of the House of Representatives" was held at Sunflower Park Hokuryu Onsen. Participants paid their own participation fees (out-of-towners also had to pay for lodging).

With all of you!

Greetings from Tokuji Hisada, Chairman, Hokkaido Seed Association

Greetings from Mr. Hisada

There was happy news in the newspaper this morning. This year's JCJ Awards (Japan Congress of Journalists, JCJ Awards 2020), which recognize outstanding journalism activities, selected the "Shimbun Aka Hata" newspaper's "Sakura wo Mieru Kai" (Cherry Blossom Viewing Party) scoop report as the grand prize winner.

I was pleased myself, as it was an important news item in the local HBC's "Yajji and Democracy" program.

When I was at the Hokkaido Shimbun, I also received the "JCJ Award" for my coverage of the massive accounting irregularities at the Hokkaido Government. I was happy to realize that such journalism is still alive today, as this award can only be obtained if you really dig deep.

Two years ago, I retired from the Hokkaido Shimbun, where I had worked for 33 years. Rather than staying in journalism, I decided to get out and say what I wanted to say. I founded the "Hokkaido Tane no Kai" and have been working with Min-san on the occasion of the seed law.

This time, Mr. Paper spoke to the Hokkaido Seed Association and asked to make an inspection tour. I immediately consulted with Mr. Ryoji Kikura, advisor to the Hokkaido Seed Association, who lives in Hokuryu Town, and Mr. Mamoru Segawa, advisor to the Hokkaido Seed Association in Touma Town, and the visit was made possible. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of them.

The Hokkaido Seed Association was launched on June 15, 2018 with 38 members. We have worked hard to collaborate with other parts of the country. We are now working hard to focus on activities to protect native species. We will continue to work closely with you to protect Japanese species. Please accept my best regards. Thank you very much for your time today.

Greeting from Mayor Yutaka Sano of Hokuryu Town

Greetings from Mayor Sano

We were honored to have Ms. Tomoko Kami, a member of the House of Councilors, Mr. Takaaki Tamura, a member of the House of Representatives, and Mr. Kazuya Hatayama, a former member of the House of Representatives. We have had many delegates from various political parties, but this is the first time they have stayed in Hokuryu-cho. We would like to extend a hearty welcome to them. Thank you very much.

I have visited Dr. Paper's office on occasion of his administrative activities for Hokkaido issues, National Health Insurance, etc. I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for his prompt response on each occasion. I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for his prompt response each time.

Hokuryu-cho is a town where a pioneer group led by Shoichiro Yoshiue of Chiba Prefecture's Inba and Honno villages (merged into Inzai City) is said to have unloaded mulberry trees in 1893. With a population of 1,770, it is one of the smallest towns in Hokkaido, and is an agricultural town with the sunflower as its town symbol.

We are producing really delicious rice. I hear that the harvesting of Uruchi rice will begin in earnest tomorrow. I was a little worried because there was not enough snow this year, but I have heard from Mr. Hirokuni Kitakiyo, representative director of JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu that this year's rice is good, and I have high expectations for it.

In 1990, a declaration was made led by former Hokuryu Town Agricultural Cooperative Association President Huang Kura to declare the town "a safe food production town that protects the lives and health of the people. We have been delivering safe and delicious rice to consumers for many years. In recognition of this, we received the Japan Agricultural Award Grand Prize in 2016 (Heisei 28) The award ceremony was held at NHK Hall.

In addition, the Kuro Sengoku Business Cooperative was selected as an excellent example of the 5th Discover Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Village (Mura) Treasures by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. At the award ceremony held at the Prime Minister's official residence, we took a commemorative photo alongside the Prime Minister.

In June, Mr. Masahiko Yamada, former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr. Masaki Haramura, director of a documentary film on agriculture, and Mr. Mamoru Segawa of Touma Town visited our town to discuss seed law issues.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the teachers along with the producers. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Paper Greetings from Rep.

Greetings from Mr. Paper

Thank you very much for your heartfelt greeting. I would like to thank Mr. Kikura from the bottom of my heart for making various arrangements, including accommodations.

The Seeds and Seedlings Law, once approved by the Cabinet in the Diet, could not be discussed because various opinion letters were submitted and the law became inflammatory and controversial on the Internet. This is the first time I was sent to the Diet in 2001 and the first time in my activities in the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The postponed agenda will be discussed at the next session of the Diet, so we must carefully listen to what the Diet has to say and, above all, we must listen to the voices of producers who are working hard in the field. As a part of such a survey, we visited Hokuryu Town.

In the morning, we heard about the Kuro Sengoku Business Cooperative. The process of producing Kuro Sengoku soybeans has been very difficult and would not have been possible without passion. Despite these hardships, the town takes pride in its activities. It made me think once again that what they have created through their efforts may be exposed to negative times.

In the afternoon, we had a meeting at Honoka, an agricultural cooperative corporation. We heard that the reason for establishing the corporation was "because we had a sense of crisis that we would not be able to continue if we kept quiet," and we felt that this must have been a very difficult decision to make and a decision that had to be made. I realized that we are here today because we had the courage to take on this challenge.

I am very glad that I came this time. I am very glad that I came this time, because I would not have been able to hear such a story without coming to the actual site. I would like to challenge the Diet based on what I have heard today.

I believe that we must jointly focus our efforts in the direction of creating a spirit of Hokkaido agriculture, Japan's agriculture, and a spirit in which on-the-ground efforts can properly bear fruit. Thank you very much for your time today.

I am glad I visited Hokuryu Town!

Greetings from Mr. Takaaki Tamura, Member of the House of Representatives

Greetings from Mr. Tamura

Thank you, Mr. Huangkura, for arranging such a wonderful meeting. I have never received such hospitality. I am very much impressed.

This time, I was impressed by the many people who are thinking hard about the people of Hokkaido and about agriculture in Japan.

We believe that what we can do is to firmly support and advance Japan's agriculture as the nation's key industry, to revive the depressed agricultural and production base, and to increase food reserves, and we are committed to such agricultural policy.

Today, we were also able to witness the direct seeding of Kuro Sengoku soybeans and had the opportunity to eat them raw. We also had three bottles of Kuro-sengoku tea and tasted the Kuro-chan hamburger steak set meal for lunch. It was very delicious. We are in love, love, love with Kuro-sengoku!

We are looking forward to hearing a lot of stories from you today," said Tamura.

Toast by Kazuya Hatayama, former member of the House of Representatives

Mr. Hatayama gave a toast!

Thank you for making this possible today. Thank you for the many things I have learned today. I would like to make a toast with our determination to do our best while praying for a bountiful harvest and further development of Hokuryu Town!

Cheers, then!

A variety of dishes

Hirokuni Kitakiyo, Representative Director, Hokuryu District, JA Kitasorachi, closing the meeting

The closing remarks were given by Hokushin District Representative

It was a great opportunity to meet today's seed-based gathering, Dr. Paper and Dr. Tamura.

Now that you have come to Hokuryu Town, we hope that you will not forget this town and that you will continue to promote it and tell people that there is a town like this.

I would like to close by expressing my sincere gratitude for today's encounter. Thank you very much! Cheers!


With gratitude to the spirit of the rice plant that lives in us.

Hokuryu Town is in the midst of rice harvesting!

The eternal soul hidden in the seed, the source of life,
We are grateful for the passion of the producers who nurture life and the many people who support and watch over them,
With endless love, gratitude and prayers.

More Photos

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◇ Photography and Editing: Noboru Terauchi Reporting and Writing: Ikuko Terauchi