Takuya Takahashi a,,,
Koji Matsushita b
Wil de Jong c
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School of Environmental Science, The University of Shiga Prefecture, 2500 Hassaka, Hikone, Shiga 522-8533, Japan
Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
Center for Integrated Area Studies, Kyoto University, 46 Shimoadachi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Received 17 October 2016. Accepted 28 October 2016. Available online 12 November 2016.
Forest commons in Japan are known as iriai, and they represent a century old communal forest management arrangement. In 1966, the government of Japan enacted the Iriai Modernization Act, which aimed to assign legal ownership to forest iriais. It gave forest users the option to choose between individual or collective ownership. The paper explores the implementation of the act and whether if the choices for iriai modernization and group or individual ownership can be linked causally to characteristics of the forest user group. By the year 2010, 36.5% of the area of forest iriais had been modernized. The size of forest iriai user group and the ratio of plantation forest appeared negatively correlated with the conversion to modern property ownership, but the unity among user group members appeared positively correlated with iriai modernization. The persistence of following customs and traditions of the user group correlated with modernization towards group ownership under the act, while past labor contribution by group members appeared positively correlated with modernization towards individual ownership. The case of forest iriai modernization in Japan is relevant for the expanding debate on the interrelations between a state's natural resource use reforms and how forest commons are incorporated in this process.