Liberating a Library in Saga Prefecture

Takeo Mayor Library

Takeo City’s recent library redevelopment has been a wild success. Here is an interesting profile about the Mayor and the project:

Culture Convenience Club, the outfit that runs Tsutaya, Japan’s biggest nationwide chain of video-rental shops and bookstores, has become involved with managing a library in Saga Prefecture.

The library is in Takeo, a city of just 50,000 residents. The number of people using the library has shot up since the private firm took over the management, and now people from around the country are taking a close look to learn from this initiative. Some regard it as a revolution in how to run a library and a symbol of efforts to decentralize the way Japan is run.

The driving force behind the initiative is Hiwatashi Keisuke, the 43-year-old mayor of Takeo, who frankly describes himself as a visually oriented person who shunned school as a kid. As mayor, he is carrying out a series of wide-ranging strategic reforms designed to shake up everything from the library and hospital administration to local education. Takenaka Harukata, a political scientist and former member of the Ministry of Finance, sat down with Hiwatashi to find out more about what drives the reform-minded mayor.

Continue reading the story.



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