* Since the late 2000s, Professor Tsutsui Kazunobu has actively and significantly contributed to the growth of the collaboration between Tottori University in Japan and the University of Sciences at Hue University. Prof. Tsutsui Kazunobu participated in numerous joint research projects on regional planning, rural development, and community development in Vietnam. He also provided direct support to the lecturers of the Faculties of Geography and Geology at the University of Sciences as they pursued their doctoral and master’s degrees. Additionally, he developed academic and research exchanges with Hue University’s member universities, including the University of Sciences and the University of Foreign Languages.
- As a professor, a social scientist on rural studies and territorial organization, participating in many joint research projects on regional planning, rural development, and community development in Vietnam, Is there anything you would care to share, including difficulties and challenges during your work?
Professor Tsutsui Kazunobu: In practical research on rural planning, rural economic development, and community development, the period of the project is long. Because we must establish the relationship with residents, People’s Committees (UBND) and Co-operatives (HTX) before we start the discussion of the main theme.
Besides, it is important to obtain competent counterparts who can work independently on the Vietnamese side. Currently, researchers of Faculty of Geography and Geology, Hue University of Sciences are providing careful support and coordinating with Thua Thien Hue People’s Committee, District People’s Committee and so on.
However, the support in international problem, such as VISA, is not sufficient in Hue compared to the support I have been provided in former projects such as Hanoi. Even if I became an honorary professor at Hue University, that issue has not beenchange.
- Can Professor share some of the distinctions between rural Japan and rural Vietnam?
Professor Tsutsui Kazunobu: Over the past 50 years, the rural population of Japan has been declining and aging, but in the recent 10 years, young people in urban areas have begun to take an interest in lifestyle in rural areas, creating “return to rural living”. On the other hand, rural areas in Vietnam are aging, and a lot of young people in rural areas are moving to urban areas. It can be said that the young people’s interest in rural areas is different between Japan and Vietnam.
- In Professor’s opinion, what issues need to be addressed and worth focusing on in rural Vietnam, particularly in Thua Thien Hue?
Professor Tsutsui Kazunobu: Firstly, it is important to develop human resources to secure human resources in rural areas in next ten years from now, when Vietnam’s rural population will be declining. As one of the ideas, the community development internship program for university students by rural People’s Committee and rural Co-operative should be considered.
Secondly, it is important to develop community businesses led by Co-operative. There are projects on agricultural product processing and community tourism in rural Vietnam. However, it is necessary to plan activities that improve the quality of life of people in rural areas based on the concept of SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations, for example, small-scale power generation and local production for local consumption activities.
- Finally, Can Professor share with us your plans and projects in Vietnam as well as Thua Thien Hue Province in the future?
Professor Tsutsui Kazunobu: I am currently doing the following programs in a project called “Study on Possibility of Neo-endogenous Rural development in Mid-Vietnam and Monsoon Asia under KASO – Depopulation” (Research Theme Number: 18KK0344) supported by JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science).
- Feasibility study of community development internships in rural Vietnam
- Research of the role of Co-operatives in community business in rural Vietnam
- Development of CBPR (Community-Based Participatory Research) Program on rural community development for Young Researchers at Hue University
*Thank you so much for the interview.