In March, 1994, Heroines for Environment and Rural Support (HERS) was founded by women seeking to provide a network of support for female agricultural workers across Japan. Initially a loose-knit community, HERS was incorporated in 2003 and underwent significant reorganization in early 2014. It now boasts over 160 members nationwide. Our staff consist of young, female farmers actively seeking solutions to some of the broader societal issues facing women in rural Japan. The key areas in which HERS is active are as follows:
- Fostering the communicative abilities of female agricultural workers Raising awareness of the importance and appeal of the countryside.
- Actively seeking new methods to promote rural Japan Working towards mutually beneficial relationships between urban and rural communities.
- Take action to pass abundant nature in countryside on to future generations Promoting the increased use of renewable energy sources in rural communities.
A message from the Director
During my time as an international student in Germany, I discovered agricultural communities that were utilizing renewables (solar power, wind power, and biomass fuel) and working towards energy self-sufficiency. This is not to say that German farmers have entirely overcome the problems pertaining to climate change and energy production - however, the high regard in which farmers and farming communities are held this in is country is admirable.
Today, Japan faces numerous social and environmental issues. In the current climate, what would happen if farmers ceased to exist? If agricultural communities fell into ruin? On reflection, under such circumstances, war and civil strife seem inevitable. It is my hope that those of us who comprise these rural communities will realize the importance of the role we play, express this in our own words, and pursue concrete change. With the founding of HERS, we have taken the first step towards realizing these goals.
Both city and countryside have their role to play in the modern world, but rural communities, now more than ever, must be cherished. With the women of rural Japan at the forefront, and operating on the basis of mutual understanding and cooperation, we are striving to affect positive change.
We look forward to sharing our vision with you.
Profile: Eri Otsu
O2 Farm, Kumamoto Prefecture, Minami-Aso
“Agricultural communities can provide more than just food. We must realize their potential as centers of energy production and places of natural beauty, for the benefit of future generations.”
A farmer specializing in organic rice and Akaushi beef production, Eri is currently engaging with the NPO Kyushu Biomass Forum, seeking to raise public awareness of biomass fuel technologies. Nationwide, she is involved with multiple enterprises relating to a broad range of issues, including the relationship between young people and agriculture, support of agricultural communities, revitalization projects, as well as the preservation of traditional cultures. Eri is an activist for the recognition of the Aso region as World Agricultural Heritage System and has delivered numerous presentations on the subject. Eri is also a mother of four and recipient of the Nikkei Woman ‘Woman of the Year Award’, and the Orai Nippon ‘Lifestyle Award’.