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Morihiko Hiramastu, Initiator of 'One Village One Product' Campaign
    2009-12-21 15:56:22     CRIENGLISH.com


Morihiko Hiramastu and CRI reporter


86-year-old Morihiko Hiramastu might not be familiar to many Chinese urban dwellers, but he is a friend to villagers in many places across the country.

The movement 'One Village One Product' this Japanese man initiated has rid many Chinese villagers of poverty and helped create a better living environment for them. His contribution to the development of agriculture was highly praised and in 2002, he won the 'Friendship Award' from the Chinese government.

Chen Zhe has his story. 

In 1979, Morihiko Hiramastu quit his job and went back to his hometown Oita Prefecture in Japan. He was then elected Governor of the county and his tenure lasted 24 years. His re-election three times was attributed to the 'One Village One Product' movement he initiated. The movement was promoted through actual activities with a slogan "Let's work together on what we can do in the present condition!" Morihiko Hiramastu discusses his theories: 

"Back then, villagers were very poor and they didn't have the motivation to work. Some of them were forced to make a living in cities. But I thought they could increase their income and live a good life without leaving their hometown by developing high value-added agriculture."

'One Village One Product' refers not only to agricultural production, but to upgrading the agriculture industry. It aims to explore and manufacture products with local characteristics. It also improves and upgrades the manufacturing techniques so that the products can be sold in domestic and foreign markets. As a result, it could drive the development of the local economy.

Morihiko Hiramatsu would have never imagined that the OVOP movement exerted such a huge influence on villages and villagers. As a giant agricultural country, China paid great attention to the model and became the first overseas country to adopt it. The initiator recalls:

"Shanghai was the first place in a foreign country to promote the OVOP movement. The introduction of the movement was to encourage manufacturing products of high quality, scientific management of the quality and developing local specialties. The city of Wuhan in central China followed and then Xi'an in northwest China also joined the movement."

At present, the OVOP Movement has spread to more than 30 countries and regions, such as China, Thailand and Malaysia amongst others, achieving economic and social benefits. For example, east China's Jiangsu province has accelerated the development of the OVOP campaign based on available and dominant resources in recent years. They have also established competitive industrial chains. About one third of a total of 16,000 villages now have their own specialized agricultural products and the income of farmers have increased remarkably. The campaign does not only contribute to the agricultural development, but also enhances the Sino-Japan relationship, especially when it deteriorated politically.

"After I retired, Vice President of China Mr. Zeng Qinghong met with me in the Great Hall of the People in 2005. Back then, relations between the two countries were challenged by Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Mr. Zeng said that the OVOP Movement in China should be furthered to solve the problems of agriculture, villages and villagers. He hoped that the non-governmental activities could help improve bilateral relations. After that, the campaign was launched in Dalian, Shenyang and in south China's Yunnan province."

Morihiko Hiramatsu takes pride in what he has done for the wellbeing of farmers. 

"Many people are making contributions to enhancing Sino-Japan relationship. As China has developed rapidly in recently years, many farmers still live in backward villages. I'm proud to be one among the many people trying to tackle the issue."

He mentions that the Japanese religion and characters were imported from China a long time ago. The connection lays a foundation for the bilateral relationship. He hopes the friendship between China and Japan can do good to the world's peace and prosperity.

For China Now, I'm Chen Zhe.

 
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