Citizens’ Public Halls (Kominkan)

A type of community center, known as Kominkan, forms a well-established part of life in local communities in Japan. There are approximately 3,000 municipalities in Japan, and 91% of them maintain one or more Kominkan, with a total of 18,000 throughout the country. A comparison with Japanese libraries, which number only 2,800, gives some of idea of the integral part they play in the life of the nation. Further, there are 24,000 elementary and 10,000 junior high schools in Japan, so there are nearly two Kominkan for every junior high school. The establishment of Kominkan is deeply related to the reconstruction of the Post-War years, and they have endured through over half a century, accomplishing a number of organizational realignments, and solidifying their place in Japanese communities. Kominkan continue to display aspects which are unique to the cultural environment of Japan, and others which are universal, such as providing opportunities for lifelong education essential for people’s lives, and must increasing expectations in the future.
These small-scale Kominkan, established and operated by the local residents, are called “Autonomous Kominkan” or “Village Kominkan”. According to the survey by the National Kominkan Association in November 2002, the number of Autonomous Kominkan had reached 76,883. This figure shows how central Autonomous Kominkan is to the life of people within the community. Autonomous Kominkan are operated and managed by the local residents, to strengthen their solidarity and improve the situation of their community. Some of them also conduct activities in collaboration with the Kominkan, supported by public funds.
Since many sorts of public facilities have now been constructed throughout Japan, both in urban and rural areas, there are many, such as community centers, whose functions are related to those of Kominkan. Nevertheless, Kominkan started out as facilities quite different than mere public assembly halls.

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