Supporting the next generation while revitalizing Fukushima
Miai Kobayashi—who established HITOBITO.inc in Kunimi-cho, Date-gun, Fukushima Prefecture in 2017—is working on the sixth industrialization of agricultural products, such as the distribution of Fukushima products, as well as the planning and sales of cosmetics made from agricultural products of the region. Originally from Tokyo, she made her career debut as an elite government official and worked at a private think tank before her current role.
“When it comes to both my work and private life, I am the type that is directly driven by my interests.”
Kobayashi switched jobs to a think tank because she wanted to work closer to the field. As she was working on regional revitalization projects of a dozen or so areas across the country, her desire to jump in and contribute to the region as an independent individual rather than consulting from the outside became stronger, which ultimately led her to start her own company.
“In my case, I felt that I could be more helpful to the people, especially in a place like Fukushima where there are many challenges. I was motivated to take responsibility and do what I could do to solve problems, even if they were small.”
Kobayashi currently lives in both Tokyo and Fukushima with her husband and her 7 month old daughter. She believes that living not only in the countryside but also in Tokyo, allows her to grasp the real needs of consumers. In hopes to support the next generation, Kobayashi established a new company with friends from Kunimi-cho in 2018, and opened a private social education facility called “Akari” in 2019 as a place for the younger generation of the area to gather.
“There are many young people in local regions who can’t find their dreams because of this sense of limitation. I want to communicate to them that they have more choices in life and that they are allowed to decide for themselves. I hope for a society where everyone, especially women, can be satisfied with their own path.”
Miai Kobayashi was born in 1987 in Tachikawa city, Tokyo. After graduating from Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law, Keio University she joined the House of Representatives Research Bureau and was seconded to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. She started her business in August 2017 after working at the Japan Research Institute for three years to help revitalize regional areas.
2. “Ichifuku Ume” are sweet vinegar pickled plums made by Takahashi Fruits in Kunimi-cho.
3. Miai Kobayashi serving customers at the LUMINE AGRI MARCHE with her husband, Shinsuke.
4. “Hatorazu Apple Juice” by Kuroda Orchard in Kunimi-cho uses a variety of apples such as ‘Sun Fuji’, ’Kougyoku' and ‘Orin’.
5. Smooth and juicy plums called ‘Oishiwase’.