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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.134
Automated vehicle systems and hope for the revitalization of a depopulating area in Japan
In Japan the population has been notably decreasing since 2008 with resultant social issues. This does not reflect a gradual social change nationwide but rather more rapid and adverse impacts on some rural areas. I conducted anthropological fieldwork in one of these rural areas in Japan, the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, where a population of over 10,000 in 1960 had halved by 2018. We can see many issues in the area, such as empty houses, damage to crops by wild animals, outflow of young people to the city, limited transport and even disappearance of local communities. These problems are interrelated and they drastically change social conditions. In this talk, I will introduce types of transport problems seen in this area and discuss potentially effective countermeasures for the problems. Automated vehicle systems(AVs) are considered to be one of the most promising technologies for tackling transport problems in such areas and residents hope to install them in their communities. The Japanese government has also started to perform social experiments on implementing AVs. However, emerging technologies do not always effectively address life issues and can instead cause undesired side effects. To illustrate this point, I will introduce a project that was conducted in collaboration with the local government and an automotive company to search for a better way of installing AVs. I will consider social acceptance of AVs and discuss both more effective uses of technology and the possibilities of anthropological research to revitalize depopulating regions in Japan.