Due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, many people in the metropolitan area realized that there are potential risks in the overly concentrated economy. Therefore, the “satellite office” started to draw people’s attention as one of the countermeasures for the risks, and the Tokushima Satellite Office Project–driven by Tokushima Prefecture–has come under the spotlight. Currently, more than fifteen companies with an expressed support for the project have begun to set up satellite offices.
Get Away from the City! Off to Tokushima!
The Tokushima Satellite Office Project started as a movement after the Great East Earthquake, mainly among companies in the metropolitan area. It reconsiders the conventional manner of daily work and seeks to “telecommute” and “work in mobile mode,” in a style that uses information and telecommunications technologies to set people free from the restrictions of time and place.
Tokushima Prefecture was the first to focus on this movement. The region facilitated one of the best broadband environments by extending a high-speed broadband network throughout the prefecture, even to the depopulated areas known as marginal villages (villages in which at least 50% of the population consists of people 65 years old or more). By capitalizing on the advantages of the infrastructure, Tokushima has promoted an unprecedented “village revitalization model,” which uses old, vacant houses and idle facilities in the depopulated villages as satellite offices for ICT companies in the metropolitan area. This also serves to revitalize the depopulated areas.
Additionally, through the project Tokushima offers to provide a place to realize “a new form of work” and “a new lifestyle” amid its abundant natural beauty. Ultimately, Tokushima’s proposal for a new working style for the twenty-first century could transform Japanese society.
Broadband Kingdom: One of the Best in Japan
Tokushima offers an environment that enables one to enjoy the abundance of nature and a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure at the same time. The local public organization’s fiber-optic network is facilitated throughout the prefecture even to homes in mountainous areas where private-sector-driven operation is difficult due to low profitability. The length of the fiber-optic core installed by the local government per resident and per household in Tokushima is the longest of any prefecture.
All 24 cities, towns and villages in Tokushima are equipped with CATV service. In fact, CATV’s penetration to the households is nearly 90%, which is the highest ratio in Japan. Added to such an environment, the effect of “killing four birds with one stone” has been generated: It makes possible the maintenance of a high-speed, high-capacity, constantly connected broadband environment; the enhancement of the IP telephone network, which allows toll-free calls in the same area; the transmittal of regional information in communities; and local disaster prevention. It appears that “optic kingdom of Tokushima” has become a reality.
The Reason to Choose Tokushima Prefecture
First, as mentioned previously, Tokushima is an excellent choice for business due to its prefecture-wide broadband network. Secondly, the prefecture offers a rich natural environment and many old houses with historical sentiment, even though it comes with the major challenge of “marginal villages.” By combining the two assets together, it has created attractive new offices in a way that wouldn’t be possible in the heart of a city.
When we think about the future of Japan, with its increasing depth of information infrastructure, it isn’t difficult to predict that many companies will open satellite offices in places far from metropolitan areas. The ongoing effort to set up satellite offices in Tokushima therefore reflects the future of the nation.