Countrysides in Japan receive attention as preferable places to live in from all over Japan today because of the covid-19. Although known as one of the rural prefectures in Japan, Shimane Prefecture has tremendous appeal points. Shimane prefectural governor Tatsuya Maruyama has appealed its ironmaking, information technology(IT), and skin enhancement. The region makes its economic and industrial strategy based on these elements.
Shimane has its unique industries in the world. This skill had been developed by the lord of the manor Tanabe and his family. The productions from the ironmaking art were called Tamahagane. The making of Tamahagane peaked in the Edo period. The craftsmen of the Tamahagane made many Japanese swords which were referred to as the soul of samurais. These craftsmen supported the Japanese samurai culture. The art of Tamahagane became a basis of a modern skill of special steel. The special steel made in Shimane supports not only Japanese industries but also world ones today. The special steel has a 15% share in the amount of Shimane prefectural added value. The special steel industry opened its laboratory in Shimane University’s site to develop its technique further. A professor of Oxford University with a high level of ironmaking method was assigned as the first head of the center. Shimane aims for further development of its steel industries.
Shimane is known for its development of IT industries. In 2005 the population in Matsue, the prefectural capital, marked the first record degreasing the population drain to urban areas. Worried about the further decrease of its residents, Matsue city planned its new business model to stop the young generation from moving to Tokyo or Osaka. The city focused on the computer programing language Ruby. Ruby was invented by Hiroyuki Matsumoto, who was native-born in Matsue. Matsue city promoted its IT industrial policy by using Ruby. They also opened an IT technicians’ salon in front of Matsue Station. These measures resulted in success. More than 50 IT companies exist in Shimane Matsue today. The sales figures of the IT industry in Matsue in 2019 were 2.7times as much as those in 2004, and the number of employees has increased 1.7times in the same period. The city of Matsue will continue to strengthen its IT industries further to create more working places for young generations.
The prefecture has won the championship in the Grand Prix of skin enhancement conducted by the Japanese cosmetics company POLA 5 times in 8 years. The hours of sunlight in Shimane are shorter than those in the other prefectures, so the people in Shimane get few ultraviolet rays. To make matters better, the humidity in winter in Shimane is high, and such a condition contributes to the skin’s metabolism. Such a characteristic climate feature enables the people in Shimane to enjoy the benefits of skin enhancement. Skin enhancement attracts women throughout Japan. Shimane prefectural government aims to use this strong point to create job opportunities for the women in Shimane.
Shimane prefecture is carrying out the above industrial strategies: ironmaking, information technology, and skin enhancement to develop sustainability. The strategy of Shimane prefecture should be closely watched in the future.
Written by Takashi Saito
Corrected by Dr.Ayumi Mishiro(D.Litt University of St Andrews)