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Neighborhood associations find membership declining

Date Posted: 2007-09-13

Membership in neighborhood associations is dropping, and many community activities associated with them are decreasing.

Traditionally, neighborhood associations insured streets and common areas in buildings were kept clean, and the local landscape maintained. In years past, the majority of residents joined local associations, which extended activities to the social realm. Thatís changing now, and neighborhood associations report their memberships have dropped to less than 20% of the residents. Only the Shuri area, which reports about 40% of the residents maintaining membership, is holding steady.

Officials say the bonding by local citizens is on the decline as more and more immigrants flood the island from mainland Japan. The newcomers arenít as inclined to become friendly with neighbors, often avoiding any contact at all. Technological developments, including electronic lock systems and intercoms, make the need for communication less obvious.

Naha City is working to promote a resurgence in neighborhood associations, citing friendship and brotherhood parties as a way to get people together. Naha City is using environmental cleanup campaigns, discussions of how to prepare for coping with natural disasters, and education welfare programs to get people talking to each other. Naha City officials say the neighborhood associations are essential in times of disaster, and wants citizens to be more closely allied with government agencies.

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