Forested Japanese Village Contemplating Municipal ICO to Fund Sustainability Measures

As part of its dedicated efforts to become ecologically and economically self-sustaining, a Japanese village called Nishiawakura is considering raising funds by ICO (initial coin offering) to replace revenue from government development grants that expire in 2020.

The forested village, which sits in the mountainous backbone of Southern Honshu, has about 1500 residents.

Concurrent with its “Initiative with a 100-year Vision of Forests,” which began in 2008, the village has been working to attract young entrepreneurs to the region.

Some, like Kohei Izutsu, who moved to Nishiawakura in 2014, have already helped the village reduce the village’s dependence on imported kerosene.

As part of his biomass business, Sonraku, Izutsu works with forestry companies selectively logging the region’s 100-year-old forests, and uses the industry’s low-quality waste wood to produce the woodchip-based biomass fuel now used to heat hot pools at the region’s local resorts.

Consequently, kerosene imports to Nishiawakura are down 80%, and the use of Sonraku’s locally-produced biomass fuel means that 10 million yen (about US $88 500) that used to exit the village now circulates there.

Hot pool resorts are collectively saving $17 700 a year, and Izutsu reopened an abandoned resort in 2015.

Proper forest management aids the regions other sustainable industries, say village officials.

“Well-managed forests serve for keeping the volume of river water stable, which makes it feasible to generate electricity using water power.”

Izutsu’s not the only creative entrepreneur. “More and more people are getting involved in social capital services such as guest houses, Japanese sake catering bars, gourmet game cuisine, Montessori education, midwifery and elder care,” the Japan for Sustainability newsletter reports.

Now the village is looking at an internet-based means of raising money in the form of a municipal ICO.

Although the San Francisco Bay municipality of Berkeley is currently studying the possibility of municipal bonds on blockchain, Nishiawakura may be the first region to announce it’s considering an ICO:

It is beginning to investigate a new system called Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in cooperation with private businesses that are familiar with Bitcoin or Blockchain technology. It will examine the possibility of a municipal ICO as a new financial resource.

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