The Asaza Project is an environmental conservation/restoration program with the overall lake and its catchment area in view, supported by a network of a wide variety of organizations in the catchment basin, such as civil groups, fisheries cooperatives, forestry associations, companies, trade unions, governments, and schools (Fig. 3). The Project is characterized by its efforts to permeate the eco-conservation system into every social activity (such as in industries and education) in the watershed with an eye toward developing them into a catchment-wide operation.
Today’s citizens’ activities are called for to serve as 1) a bond among diverse groups in the vertically-structured and hollowed-out society according to a common banner and challenge, and 2) a nucleus to integrate society. The Asaza Project was introduced in the Quality of the Environment in Japan 1998 published by the Environment Agency as “a cooperative project connecting diverse sectors of the community toward a total and careful, citizen-initiated watershed management from the headwaters to the lake”.
Our project has been steadily expanding, with participation of 110,000 community members and 170 elementary schools (over 90% of those in the catchment area) since its commencement in 1995. Growth of the project, coupled with further participation of women in the social and community activities, has contributed to the organic collaboration of public works and policies which in the past were separately implemented. Such cooperation is producing a new effect on the policies and projects conducted in the catchment area. The Asaza project is a citizen-Initiated Public Works that allows the participation of anyone at any time to work toward regaining the natural bounty of Lake Kasumigaura and establishing a sustainable society.