Globalisation and  Localisation:  Two  Worlds  Coming  Closer  Together (Part 1)

    This is part 1 of the text archive for the online talk session “Globalisation and  Localisation:  Two  Worlds  Coming  Closer  Together ” held on December 15, 2021.

    Date: Wednesday 15 December 2021, 19:00 – 20:30
    Venue: Online
    Participation: free of charge
    Speaker: Koichi Nakano, CEO of East Times, LLC, Localities! Publisher and Chief Editor)
    Yuto Yabumotoo(Kinan Art Week General Producer)


    Koichi Nakano (CEO, THE EAST TIMES LLC, Publisher and Editorial Director, Locality! Publisher and Chief Editor)
    Born 1984 in Yuzawa city, Akita and raised in Saitama. He  graduated from the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law and the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Public Policy. Worked as a reviewer at the Tokyo Head Office of the Asahi Shimbun for three years. Attracted by the potential of social media, he joined Plus Alpha Consulting Co., Ltd., a venture company that develops Twitter analysis tools. In 2015, he moved to Sendai and started THE EAST TIMES, where he worked as a reporter for the Yahoo! media outlet THE PAGE, reporting on local news and producing a series of hit articles that received 12 million page views per month on Yahoo! He uses this experience to plan and implement local and regional branding and promotions.

    Yuto Yabumoto (Producer, Kinan Art Week)
    Born in Shirahama Town, Wakayama Prefecture, Nishi-tonda Elementary School, Tonda Junior High School, Tanabe High School. Co-founder, One Asia Lawyers; President, AURA Contemporary Art Foundation; President, Artport Inc.
    Yabumoto’s ancestors lie in the area of Nakahechi, Kumano Kodo, and his  mother has roots as the first female orca trainer at Adventure World.. In 2011, He founded JBL Mekong Group, the forerunner of One Asia Lawyers, and has lived and worked in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand for over a decade, providing grants and exhibitions to artists, curators and art collectives across the region. His current research focuses on anthropology and art, with an interest in the myths, legends, fables and folklore of the Asia Pacific region. His research focuses on the Kumano region, where his ancestors lie, and on issues such as Zomia, highland civilisation and animism. Major exhibitions include “Zomi – Trans – local Migrants on the Water -: Contemporary Art from the Mekong Region” (Osaka, Japan) and “Silence is Golden” (Myanmar).

    Globalisation and  Localisation:  Two  Worlds  Coming  Closer  Together (Part 1)

    Good evening everyone. I am Yabumoto, the producer of Kinan Art Week. Thank you very much for joining us today.

    Today we will be holding a talk session on the theme of ‘Globalisation and Localisation: Two Worlds Coming Closer Together’  as seen from the practice of the field. Our guest will be Mr. Koichi Nakano, CEO of East Times LLC, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Locality! Thank you very much for joining us today, Mr Nakano.

    I look forward to working with you.

    I think that today’s session will be quite passionate. In a way, I think this initiative is a big challenge, how do you feel about it, Mr. Nakano?

    I am thrilled that so many of you have come together to discuss this area. I hope that today’s session will be the start of a more major topic.

    Thank you very much.

    With the recent outbreak of the Corona pandemic , it seems that the term “globalisation” has become more and more controversial. As someone who works in a law firm myself, I feel that this is clearly a growing trend in the policies of many countries.

    When we talk about globalisation in the theoretical world, there are many different terms: traditionalist, globalist, pessimistic globalist, etc. It seems to me that there is so much diversity that it is difficult to understand. In preparation for this talk event, I have been reading Anthony Giddens’* Runaway World: How Globalisation is Shaping Our Lives, Ulrich Beck’s* Was ist Globalisierung? and many others. However, it is difficult to understand the content of any of these specialist books. Today, I would like to discuss boldly as a practitioner, while also showing my respect to Giddens, Beck and others.

    *Reference: About Anthony Giddens (Kotobank
    *Reference: What is Ulrich Beck (Weblio Dictionary)?

    [1] Speaker introduction: Mr. Koichi Nakano

    What resonates with me about Mr. Nakano is that he thinks that globalisation and locality are getting closer together. I hope we can have a deep discussion on this topic today.

    First of all, Mr. Nakano, can you tell us what you are currently doing?

    THE EAST TIMES, LLC Initiatives

    At THE EAST TIMES,LLC*, I represent, our business is based on the principle of “a world where everyone can raise their own flag and recruit sympathisers”. We originally created the company in 2015 to provide community and earthquake coverage in Sendai. Before founding this company, I wrote articles as  a reporter for Yahoo!

    In October last year, we launched a new media outlet with the name “Locality!*”, a media outlet with an ideological name of its own. We believe that there is value in locality and in everyone’s communication, and as a company specialising in “local” and “information dissemination” we are working on a variety of initiatives.

    Nakano’s Roots and Philosophy

    Before becoming a journalist, I spent eight and a half years studying information dissemination and foreign policy at the University of Tokyo. My main research topic was foreign policy over the last 30 years. For example, “What kind of world order has emerged since the end of the Cold War?” or “How can we stop regional conflicts?” I was always thinking about that. In terms of regional conflicts, I have been interested in the Cambodian Civil War and the Rwandan Civil War, and I have been studying every day, hoping that one day I would be able to work like Sadako Ogata and Yasushi Akashi.

    What I found in my research was the fact that when the US and the Soviet Union ruled the world, there were conflicts in the frontier regions. At that time, there were standards set by the rulers, the so-called “American Standards”, and it was believed that accepting these standards would lead to globalisation. While the world was becoming more and more unified according to American standards, there were those who opposed American values, arguing that globalisation was, in the popular parlance of the time, “neoliberalism*”.

    *Reference: What is neoliberalism (Kotobank)?

    My roots are in Yuzawa City, Akita. Today, the population has decreased by 40% since I was born and the city is becoming more and more desolate every day. I used to have a grandmother’s house in Yuzawa and I have always felt that this land was attractive and very valuable to me. However, at present this kind of “local value” tends to be overlooked. Furthermore, there were many people who saw local as meaningless in a world that pursued profit, and I just couldn’t accept that.

    What is the Value of the Press?

    After my graduate studies at the University of Tokyo, I worked for three years at the Asahi Shimbun as a review reporter in charge of earthquake and tsunami coverage. At the time, I thought that reporting was about “conveying the value of nameless people. When I worked as a reporter for Yahoo! News, I wrote articles based on my own ideas, and they were read by a huge number of people. In the past, I’ve had 12 million hits a month, and my articles have appeared three times a week on the top page of Yahoo!

    I’ve had a lot of experience that if you communicate “local values” without being bound by standard values, your content will be accepted around the world. And I began to think that the key to communicating local values is how you communicate them. That’s what we’ve come to believe. Based on these experiences, we adopted the concept of “FLAG RELATIONS™*” and launched a website called “Locality!” a place to share information about local attractions.

    *Reference Philosophy (THE EAST TIMES, LLC)

    The Concept of Locality!

    Locality! is the very essence of our philosophy. When we think about what makes a place local, the answer lies in the field. In other words, it’s the things you love, the things that surprise you, the things you discover, the things that move you. We believe that if we can transmit this charm, it will become content and value that can be used worldwide.

    Locality! regularly organises talks and reporter conferences all over the country. To date, we have held 70 of these events and met around 1,700 people. In addition, 413 people have taken part in workshops organised in collaboration with JTB.

    I was uncomfortable with the notion that “anything that doesn’t fit the American standard is worthless,” so I hypothesised that “each local value has a universal value.”. Through my work with Locality! I feel that the surprises, discoveries and emotions of each individual have a universal value. The theme of this talk session is “Super Local”, and I believe that the value of the local can be translated into content that can be used globally.

    Locality! and the Relationship with Wakayama Prefecture

    Looking at the Locality! website, it seems that there is more information coming from Wakayama than other prefectures. There are many participants from Wakayama in this session, so I  would like to hear from you  about this.

    For the past four years, we have been working together with the Wakayama Prefectural Government’s Migration and Settling Promotion Division, focusing on people who have made a U-turn or I-turn and settled in Wakayama, to discover and communicate the appeal of living in the prefecture  with a real genuine  feel.  The information posted in “Locality!” Is like the output of efforts with the prefecture. 

    Source: Locality!

    Locality! plots all the news on a map, and also shows the GPS location where the information was sent. When I checked the map again, I found that Wakayama is the only place where there is an unusually large number of news. In this sense, it is a media that collects the super-local attractions of Wakayama.

    What kind of information can be found on the site, for example, tuna on the road in Nachi-katsuura or an unmanned department store in Kumano, Mie Prefecture. We collect this kind of information from all over the country, and our regional reporters send it out from different parts of the country to create the website. At the moment there are still some blank areas on the map, so our immediate goal is to fill them in.

    Source: Wakayama Local Information Dissemination Lab. “Shocking!  ️Tuna is falling on the road ️” (April 14, 2021, Locality!)
    Source: Mayumi Namiki, “Unmanned department store!” (8 January 2021, Locality!)

    We are very happy that you are so committed to Wakayama.

    I have been coming to Wakayama more than 10 times every year for the past 4 years and I think that there is still a lot of world in this land that I don’t know. This may also lead to the question “What is the charm of  the local?” 

    【2】Introduction: Yuto Yabumoto

    Now, I would like to ask you a question, Mr. Yabumoto. Some of you who have attended our talk sessions, or who will be watching them in the future, may not know who Mr. Yabumoto is. Please introduce yourself briefly.

    Yabumoto’s Roots and Philosophy

    My name is Yabumoto and I am the Chairman of Kinan Art Week. I am from the Kinan area of Wakayama Prefecture and my ancestors are buried in the area of Nakahechi, Kumano Kodo. At the moment, I am also involved in art-related activities such as the Aura Contemporary Art Foundation* and Kinan Art Week*.

    When I was at university I was a law student and I was fascinated by the world of Utagawa Hiroshige. After graduating from university I began collecting Ukiyo-e and have continued to do so ever since. Hiroshige’s Ukiyo-e paintings show simple but beautiful nature and generous people, and I think that this is exactly how he depicted the “local view of the world” in his paintings.  I am trying to achieve “world peace”, and I feel that there are hints to achieve it.

    Experience in South East Asia

    After graduating from university, I wondered what I was thinking when I crossed the sea and set foot on Cambodian soil. When I talked to the local people in Cambodia, I found that they were all good people, but in the past, there was the genocide by Pol Pot and the Cambodian civil war, so I was very interested in why they killed each other. I then set up my own law firm and spent 12 years working and developing it in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

    Our office is not the only thing that has changed in the 12 years we have been here. This picture shows the Mekong River Basin countries, where urbanisation has changed the cityscape dramatically. All the countries have in common a rising GDP and a growing population. As a result, global companies are entering the Mekong region to target domestic demand.

    In our firm, we have been supporting Japanese companies that operate such “domestic demand type business models”. What we have found through our work is that domestic demand business models are highly competitive. If a company gains market share, it will market itself to win it back, and in a sense, it is a repeated economic war.

    In addition, the domestic demand business model involves the construction of factories and other facilities that bring people out of the countryside and into the cities, which in combination increases the population. This is not only the case in emerging countries, but also in developed countries, and I think the “sanctuary cities “* of California and New York are a kind of example. While this is seen by some as a way of protecting illegal immigrants, others argue that it is a way of forcing population growth, increasing domestic demand and economic growth. In fact, when I visited these areas, I felt that the security situation has deteriorated as a result of these policies. My experiences in the Mekong River Basin countries and in the United States led me to ask myself, “What is truly happy and beautiful?” 

    *Reference Sanctuary City (Kotobank)

    Establishment of Aura Contemporary Art Foundation

    I believe that it is precisely contemporary artists who are resisting the negative aspects of urbanisation and development. That’s why I set up the Aura Contemporary Art Foundation, to use the surplus from my work for the benefit of culture and art.

    First of all, we started our activities in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, where I have been very fortunate. For example, we organised collection exhibitions, gathered collections and conducted research about the works, which we continue to practice with local curators.

    Means/Goals for World Peace

    Earlier, I told you that I want to achieve world peace. In order to maintain the world order or to solve the problems of social security and poverty, we always need resources. That is why we believe it is very important to generate profits through economic growth. In addition to this, I believe that it is also necessary to work to maintain the unique culture of the region, so the activities of the law firm and the foundation are like two wheels in my wheelhouse.

    However, I believe that there is a limit to the global economic growth based on domestic demand. In the book “East-West / North-South Thinking” by Professor Norio Akasaka*, it is written that “the creation of a global regional network is east-west and horizontal”, but what I would like to practice is a north-south and vertical perspective, in other words, “getting to the bottom of the local”. The question is how to maintain and develop the local form while maintaining the history and culture of the countryside. In this way, I think, we can find a clue to how to deal with globalisation and, by extension, to world peace.

    *Reference Author Profile: Norio Akasaka (Shinchosha)

    Isn’t “Globalisation” the Same as “Locality”?

    The word “locality” is important in the search for local. I think of locality as “the source of wealth in the world”. At the same time, I don’t think there’s much difference between locality and globalisation. In this sense, we don’t have to aim for a global world, but rather we can naturally join the global world by closing it.

    The reason for this view is related to Minakata Kumagusu* and the Kegon Sutra*. The Kegon Sutra is about “seeing the great in the small” and “seeing the infinite in the finite”. Kumagusu believed that “the world of microcosm where bacteria live” and “the world of macrocosm where the macrocosm spreads” are the same. I am in sympathy with this idea and Kinan Art Week is an art project inspired by Kumagusu’s thought.

    *Reference: Minakata Kumagusu (Kotobank
    *Reference: About Kegon Sutra (Kotobank)

    When we think about globality and locality, I think another thing that we should focus on is the Cambodian artists. I’ve been supporting them because I think they are very interesting. In Cambodia, there is a problem of freedom of expression, and I don’t know if the artists are allowed to express themselves freely. In the first place, there is no market in Cambodia, and they cannot easily obtain visas in countries around Cambodia, Europe or America. When I learned this fact, I was curious: “How do Cambodian contemporary artists maintain their activities?. The conclusion is that they are focusing on local issues and exporting their values to the whole world through the means of contemporary art.

    There is basically no marketing or competition between Cambodian contemporary artists. They are simply trying to increase the value of their work through localism. They are supported by the people who identify with their work, and they live with a “small group” of 8 billion people around the world. Moreover, they don’t localise their products for Japan, China or the US, so in a way, I think there is an important hint for us to think about globalisation and localisation. In this sense, I think that Cambodian contemporary artists are the ones who are successfully swimming in the boundary between the global and the local world.

    Once again, the concept of Kinan Art Week is to “seclude” and to “open”. Muro and Kinan are geographically almost in the same place. In light of this, we thought that locality and globalisation, in other words, “secluding” and “opening”, could be connected in equal measure. The event ran from the 18th to the 28th of November, and you can follow it on Facebook and Instagram.

    [3] What is Globalisation and Locality?

    Globalisation and nationalism

    I think that both Mr. Yabumoto and I have discovered in our practice that local values can become global values. I think we have discovered this in our practice. I would like to add a little more about my research at the University of Tokyo, which I mentioned in my introduction. At that time, the keyword “nationalism “*1 was always mentioned in discussions about “globalisation”. In Japan, the “abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures” during the Meiji Restoration was a form of nationalism. This concept, I believe, is the act of destroying all the localities and centralising them in a nation.

    *1 An idea or movement which puts forward the idea of the nation as a single community and seeks to promote the unity, independence and development of that nation without pressure or interference from others.

    What is nationalism (Kotobank)?

    Globalisation, on the other hand, is the idea of dismantling the concept of country. In the past, Japanese companies had to obtain permission from the national government before they could communicate with foreign countries, and they had to first achieve results in the Japanese market before they could expand overseas. Today, however, globalisation has made it easier to connect with foreign countries in every respect. In this sense, globalisation is playing a role in the “disappearance of national borders”.

    This inevitably leads to a relative decline in the value of the state. This is because globalisation has led to a situation where “every local is directly exposed to the global”. In political science and economic theory, the local is reorganised under one or more superpowers. But only the advocates of cultural theories in sociology thought that globalisation would make the world more diverse and the value of the local would emerge more.

    When we are freed from the shackles of the state, even among the locals and individuals who have been made subservient to the state, only those who have value emerge and those who have no value sink. In the world of politics, the Scottish independence movement*, which has been surfacing since the 1970s, seems to embody this very thing. The Scottish people thought that they could maintain their own existence by joining the EU directly, and that they didn’t need to belong to the UK. I think that’s a kind of globalisation.

    *Reference: What is the Scottish independence movement?

    I think globalisation is about asking “What happens when you expose the local to a world without borders?” As long as we try to fight on the basis of the traditional concept of “country” or on the basis of the domestic market, we will not be able to survive in this era.

    Local and ‘Personal’

    On Locality!’s website, the word “self” seems to appear frequently. I have the feeling that in your practice you equate the notion of the local with the notion of the ‘individual’, is this correct?

    I believe that if you look at the “movements of the individual mind”, such as personal surprises, discoveries and impressions, they can lead to universal values. In the process of reporting on the disaster, I have seen with my own eyes how many people empathise with the “drama of unknown people” and take action. From this experience, I became convinced that the sincere feelings of individuals have the power to move people. And I began to think, “What’s more important than communicating those feelings?

    In other words, when you get down to the local, it is thought to lead to “joining with the individual”. As I said the other day at the closing party on the last day of Kinan Art Week*, I myself believe that art collectors are not rich people. For example, Daisuke Miyatsu, the artistic director of Kinan Art Week, is a salaryman collector. He has been collecting art all his life, while working at a university and a museum. I would like to work together with these “vital citizens” to create Kinan Art Week. In this sense, I feel that we have reached an age where the movements of individuals like these can have an impact on the world.

    *Reference Kinan Art Week 2021 Closing Party Greeting (Kinan Art Week)

    Until yesterday, we were running a workshop on the theme of mikan (mandarin oranges). Actually, we were offering mikan for 2,000 yen each as a return gift for the Kinan Art Week crowdfunding. What we discussed in the workshop was “Why do we eat mikan?” and “Why have we walked alongside mikan? And so on. I believe that people who are able to think deeply in this way are “individuals with vitality” and are exactly the kind of people we need in the future.

    Source: Yuto Yabumoto Facebook (14 December 2021)

    In the past, there were so many people who were excluded from the national, corporate and local frameworks, or whose values were overlooked. However, in the age of globalisation, I feel in my own practice that these people can now really come to the fore.

    In this sense, do you think that the “cultural theory of sociology” that Mr. Nakano mentioned earlier is being proven?

    I think that is probably true. This theory of culture appeared about 50 years ago. Later, in the 1990s, when the internet became popular, more and more sociologists started to believe that globalisation would make the local more visible and improve the value of the local. When I learned about their theories, I felt that they were really geniuses.

    Think Locally, Act Globally.

    I believe that there is an overlap between the content of today’s session and Ulrich Beck’s Ulrich Beck*’s* Was ist Globalisierung published in 2005. Recently, the concept of “thinking globally and acting locally” seems to be advocated in educational institutions. However, in “Was ist Globalisierung”, the opposite is true. In other words, Beck suggests that we need to “think locally and act globally”, and I agree with this view.

    I was really surprised to find that the concepts Beck put forward seemed to almost define the very principles on which I operate.

    Now I often use the phrase “exporting value to the whole world” and I think this is what it means to think locally and act globally. What do you think about this, Mr Nakano?

    I agree with you. The world still glorifies “thinking globally and acting locally”. But I have always thought that this is wrong. I think what we really need to do is to go local and expand the scope of our actions. Because that’s more ‘truthful’. It’s not a product of man-made marketing, but a local thing that has lived with history and tradition that is by far the most valuable.

    Here is a real-life example of exactly how local value shines through. Deep in the mountains of Akita, there is a miso and soy sauce shop that has been in business for 150 years. They rethought the labelling of their products in order to sell them in Paris, France, rather than to Japan. The miso and soy sauce shop was considered overwhelmingly outdated in the region, but abroad it was acclaimed. Examples like this show that it is important to have a global perspective while focusing on and grasping local values.

    “Thinking globally and acting locally” is exactly what the aforementioned global companies with domestic demand actually do. A clear example is McDonald’s, where a global company has entered the local market and is offering localised products.

    The Limits of Globalisation

    What are some of the limitations of globalisation that you have experienced through living abroad?

    As I am currently living in Thailand, I will use the example of “Thailand 4.0*”. First of all, the first stage, “Thailand 1.0”, is a world that lives only on local domestic demand. For example, it refers to a world in which domestic demand is complete, such as a farming village deep in the mountains, where foreign companies have not been able to do anything at all.

    The second stage, “Thailand 2.0”, refers to the state of the economy in areas such as Laos, where natural resources are owned, and Cambodia, where cheap labour is used to run the economy.

    *Reference Keiichiro Oizumi, “Asia Monthly, April 2017: Policies for ‘Thailand 4.0’ take shape” (31 March 2017, Japan Research Institute)

    After that, we will enter the world of “Thailand 3.0”, and with the increase in Thailand’s population and GDP, the entry of foreign companies will accelerate at a rapid pace. The world that until now consisted only of “domestic demand completion type business” will be exposed to the “domestic demand type globalisation world” where foreign companies enter Thailand, localize their own products, and compete for the pie. This is a world of economic warfare. I think this is the limit of (domestic demand type) globalisation.

    As I work now, I feel that the companies that are winning in the global community are those that are able to export globally consistent pricing, branding and marketing products to 8 billion people around the world.

    In this sense, I am convinced that contemporary artists are very close to this. They have a product or service that is so valuable that they can actually say, “If you want the work, come directly to the studio”, or “The buyer pays for the transport of the work”.

    Domestic demand completion policy and foreign demand encouragement policy

    In my own business in India and elsewhere, coupled with Corona, I feel that national policies are clearly changing. As long as their own citizens elect their own politicians, as a nation, they naturally don’t want their own domestic demand to be touched by foreigners. Therefore, I think that it is gradually becoming closed and the “domestic demand completion policy” is being carried out.

    However, the policy of “if it earns foreign currency, we encourage it” is prevalent worldwide. In this sense, since culture and art are in everyone’s hands and cross borders with impunity, I think that contemporary art is indeed a “global industry with external demand”. I feel that increasing the number of these valuable things in the region will be a chance to maintain the region by earning foreign currency without changing the way the region is.

    I think that the “domestic demand model” is a model that has been represented by many developed countries. In the process of increasing the population, a lot of material demand is created and goods are distributed to it. For example, during Japan’s period of rapid economic growth, the influx of people from rural areas into urban areas was a major factor in economic growth. To put it simply, “How do you create a situation where every citizen wants a washing machine or a television set?”

    In Asia, where I am from, I think this reality is very apparent. For example, in the case of the relationship between China and Cambodia, if Cambodia can export goods to China, the economy is viable. This is because it is tied to “super huge domestic demand”, the so-called “transnational domestic demand type globalisation”. As a result, China can exert a powerful influence over Cambodia.

    At present, most nations, regions and individuals can only respond with A when the US says A and B when China says B. In order to overcome this situation, we believe it is important to increase the number of individuals, regions and nations that are able to compete even when a major power comes to their door.

    I think the same can be said on an individual basis. In fact, everyone is in an environment where “individuals can transmit their own value”, but unless they are aware of it, they themselves have become “internalized”. In other words, we have to distort ourselves in a way that is acceptable to others in order to survive, and I think that is very painful.

    For example, at the national level, the belief that the Chinese market is so important that we have no choice but to listen to them. Or, at a regional level, the belief that “if we don’t sell to the Chinese, we can’t survive”. Or, on a personal level, “If I get fired from this company, I won’t be able to survive”. In order to free ourselves from these “only thoughts”, I think we need to have as many options as possible. After all, if individuals and locals communicate their values globally, then people will all have a variety of options.

    Continue to Part 2 > >