Demographic crisis empties out Japan's rural areas

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  • 15

    CanadianJapan

    Search this article for : immigration, result : not found

  • 8

    semperfi

    CanadianJapan

    Search this article for : immigration, result : not found

    Good point, Canadian Japan . . .Countries that have pro-active immigration policies, like US, Canada, UK, Germany, etc. do not experience that same challenges with respect to populations in rural areas declining..............................However, if one looks at So American countries, this same challenge emerges : diminishing populations in rural areas and exponential growth of cities.

  • 2

    AlexNoaburg

    I suppose I'm one of the few that admire that Japan has mostly Japanese. Not every nation has to become like America which is unique. Some try to and can't, look at France.

  • 6

    mitokomonalex

    I have personally in the last 20 years tried to advice and initiate projects that would help restore vitality and hope in our Okinawan rural villages. As an Okinawan I tried all traditional and modern methods. Our programs at first with great media coverage took off until greedy old village officials started paying heed to former village heads who preferred to go the easy street of special islands and northern funds from the national governent and agencies and of course had seedy relations with the construction and regional national diet representatives. In those villages today stand infrastructures with absolutely no representations or usefulness for the young.. Even modern industry promotion buildings can be seen in almost every little island and rural areas of Okinawa. Young grown ups have received no resistance from their parents or grandparents and are putting out to bigger cities on Okinawa or mainland Japan. None have been told to return someday to continue their lineage.

  • 6

    titaniumdioxide

    I remember a quote in a movie entitled "UDON":

    "There is no dream here. Only udon.", referring to a rural area in Japan.

    There is no money, hopes of richness and big dreams in the country side, so I understand why this is happening. It'll be the case for all countries in the future. It's not ONLY in JAPAN.

  • -3

    turbotsat

    $50K, OR a cow? 60kg rice? To live out in Podunk-kyo?

  • 16

    Yubaru

    Until these communities realize that it isn't the free cow, or free school lunches that will attract people to their areas they will always have problems.

    Find incentives that include stable employment, and the lure of the countryside might seem more attractive.

    What "young" person in their right mind would move them and maybe their family to a country town that has literally nothing to offer in the way of schools, employment, etc etc etc.

    They should have been worrying about this decades ago, but typical of Japan they wait until the last minute to start picking teeth and make that annoying sucking sound.

  • -5

    turbotsat

    Try municipality-provided broadband, carshare, bus transport, etc. Discount or gratis tickets for bullet train or airliners, so they can enjoy the city life every few months. Buy some condo units in Tokyo etc. and timeshare them to the citizens for quarterly vacations.

  • 2

    Jonathan Prin

    No sex incentives, no child. No child allowance, no future.

    Children do not wish to stay where there is no moving activities, leisure or work. You need both. Also having a car being increasingly expensive, freedom of movement is scorched. In France, despite its vastness, not so the case thanks to above.

    Talk sex, give money for having kids (and not a pitiful 40000 yen/month I get for 3 kids), reduced tax for each additional kid you have, and Japan would go round again.

    Ladies here in Japan are given nearly everything except that expectation that having kids is rewarding and supported. I pity Japan because you know what, it is too late and population will half, no matter what you do.(except heavy unthinkable replacement of its population of course)

  • 1

    paulinusa

    ...a demographic shift that by government estimates will see the population drop to 86 million over the next four decades from about 127 million now.

    A drop of almost a third in forty years! Can that be right?

  • 1

    Jaymann

    Calves are worth $5000 in japan? And consumers still don't back the TPP? Japanese agriculture lives in a fantasy world

  • 5

    sangetsu03

    Big government projects aimed more at winning votes than economic growth would only inflate one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens, Kumano said.

    Unfortunately, this is all the government is capable of.

  • 2

    turbotsat

    paulinusa: A drop of almost a third in forty years! Can that be right?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbivore_men

    As of September 2010, 36% of Japanese men between the ages of 16 and 19 perceived themselves in this way.[3] Additionally, two surveys of single men in their 20s and 30s found that 61% and 70%, respectively, considered themselves grass-eating men.[4] This phenomenon is viewed by the Japanese government as a leading cause in the nation's declining birth rate, prompting the government to provide incentives for couples that have children, including payouts and free health care.[5]

  • 1

    Jonathan Prin

    By the way, if I ask, i could get for free a calf I am sur in France...

    Sorry also, my mistake, it is 40000yen allowance per quarter !

  • 5

    senseiman

    Reconstruction projects in communities devastated by Japan’s 2011 quake-tsunami disaster have supplied jobs.

    But some fear that it is just a temporary fix and will do little to keep the dwindling number of young people from moving away from towns like Otsuchi, which was devastated by the natural disasters.

    A lage portion of those jobs are in the construction of a massive seawall being constructed across almost the entire coast of Tohoku. The results of which will be to turn vast swaths of once beautiful coastline that attracted tourists into a giant concrete prison (the site of the wall is truly disgusting to see) and ruin a lot of the prospects of those towns for recovery (while at teh same time not being in any way adequate to protect from a repeat of 3/11)

    One thing I do notice is that a lot of small towns have really appealing points: cheap land, cheap houses, beautiful landscapes (sometimes), etc etc. In North America places like that have no trouble finding people attracted by all of that, but in Japan nobody will touch them with a stick.

    I think mitokomonalex`s comment hits the nail on the head with why these govt plans to stimulate growth in the countryside never work. Every town in Japan it seems, no matter how small, is flooded with facilities that serve no purpose (industrial halls in a farming village with no industry, etc) and, even if they did, have nobody to actually maintain or use them. Such money is obviously just gobbled up by local interests and does nothing to make the areas more suitable for outsiders or encourage actual beneficial activity.

  • 13

    StormR

    Mass immigration of the type france Belgium UK NZ etc experiencing is not really the answer either unless of course those immigrating are upper class educated non religious types. 3rd world muslims are not going to do ay country any good look at uk or Europe to see that.

    Japan needs to get smart on attracting people back to the country side. How about farming, you know like real farming , not a couple of cabbages a lettuce and a tomato plant farming that they do now, but real farming of acres and acres of food and animals, producing things that can earn real money. A free calf and a bath isn't going to attract anyone one, but then those who come up with dumb ideas often have no clue, see Japanese oyaji.

    Build a starbucks they will come, lol

  • 2

    turbotsat

    If the plans never work then maybe it doesn't matter if they work or not and so they're not meant to work, especially.

    That's what trickle-down economics is. As long as people upstream get their cut they don't have to worry about the success rate downstream, and they're the ones in control of the money.

    It's different when people try with their own money. Three restaurants have failed in same location near me over last few years. Location nice, busy corner, but no one stopping. (Have never tried this so don't know what portion of failed money was provided by public through the Small Business Administration, if any). Franchise restaurants not failing around here, generally.

  • 18

    samwatters

    I will probably get slammed for it but I'm going to say it; the problem with Japan is the elderly. Not only are there way too many of them and not only are they consuming far more than they contributed but they will not change and will not allow others in their vicinity to change. Japan has been in the top three of life expectancy for decades; lives over the age of 90 are now the norm. That's enough. After that it's time to focus on the next generation.There are two priceless articles in the Japan Time; one write about the problems of one island in the Shikoku region to attract younger people through tourism but the elderly don't want it because it would "disrupt their tradtitional way of life" (Amy Chauvez) while another article writes of the tyranny that is the chonaikai (neighborhood committee) systerm in which the elderly bascially collect money from neighborhood residents to conduct "events" which are really nothing more than day trips for seniors. When other members (those not in their 70's and 80's) suggested that the millions of yen collected could be better used to benefit all of the neighborhood they were met with cold stares. I can't remember the name of the author but again it was from the Japan TImes. Japan has a wonderful asset in their rural communities---boundless nature, streams, lakes, trails, etc.--- and in the next 20 to 30 years when a great number of the elderly die off those assets can be developed and the people will come back and recreate vibrant towns, megacities (places that I believe people live in out of necessity not choice) will shrink a bit and lessen the burden placed o the social safety net. It will get better but it's going to take some time.

  • 8

    Sensato

    For at least three decades politicians and media pundits have been talking about decentralization as a means of more evenly distributing Japan's population. It seems like a no-brainer, but very little has been done aside from initiatives like Tsukuba "science city" in Ibaraki Prefecture which acts as a sort of Japanese Silicon Valley.

    First, Japan needs to create university towns in rural areas. Nearly every one of Japan's top universities is in Tokyo now, but most of them should be moved to locations more conducive to academics where costs are much lower. Also, the central government should be moved elsewhere.

  • 2

    nikkeiboy

    I also thought immigration while reading this article. I don't think the gates need to be freely open, but there needs to be consideration into bringing in immigrants that are willing to work hard in developing the rural areas. I look at many of the farming communities in the western USA and these communities were started by immigrants. People that were willing to build these communities up and thankful for the land that the owned. Unfortunately I don't see that mentality in the young generation of Japan. Free land would also be a big incentive. Give someone some land to farm which will bring them stable income and you will have many more people interested.

  • 6

    senseiman

    but they will not change and will not allow others in their vicinity to change.

    It pains me to admit it, but I think this is a good point. One of the things undoubtedly keeping younger people out of rural towns, in addition to the usual suspects (lack of jobs, poor services, etc) is the annoyance of being subject to norms imposed by local busybodies, most of them old and most of them not really giving a dam if their village is in a downward demographic and economic spiral so long as nobody tries to change anything. I suspect from casual conversations that these people can make life truly miserable for outsiders over any perceived slight or faux pas the outsider might inadvertedly commit.

    First, Japan needs to create university towns in rural areas. Nearly every one of Japan's top universities is in Tokyo now, but most of them should be moved to locations more conducive to academics where costs are much lower.

    Some universities have actually already started doing that. Ritsumeikan set up its Asia-Pacific University Campus (which I have been to, its fairly big by Japanese standards) in rural Oita prefecture. Kyushu University is also moving is main campus out to the Ito penninsula, which is quite a rural area. Not sure how many others will follow suit.

  • 3

    Fouxdefa

    Moving universities to the countryside sounds like a good idea. You'd have young folks with free time for volunteering and the locals could set up cheap restaurants, cafés, karaoke etc. to cater to them. Old folks might not like the idea of young party animals coming in from who knows where in Japan though...I'm just thinking of my own experience at college in a rural American town.

  • 4

    Reckless

    I have 3 kids and would like a big place with a lawn and relaxing lifestyle, but what would I do? Write a novel,,, start a small eikaiwa or coffee shop,,, organic farming. Sounds good but maybe after retirement.

    Also, do they advertise these programs?

  • 2

    Wakarimasen

    If you want to live in a rural idyll seems like plenty of bargains out there.

  • 1

    kaimycahl

    Companies need to build I. the out skirts and not just I. the big cities

  • 3

    Farmboy

    I like the university idea, too, but where exactly is Mishima in Ayukawa? The story could use a link, for those of us who have a hankering for a calf...

  • 4

    warispeace

    This problem was created decades ago when the population expanded beyond Japan's food and energy supplies (thus colonization of neighboring nations) and post war when land ownership policy forced people off the land and into the city.

    Now Japan is the worlds biggest food importer and has exploiting others recourses for years. The last thing the country needs is more people, who will just end up in major cities.

    The problem is not unique to Japan as now in industrialized nations less than 5% of the population work the land. Even in less industrialized nations over 50% of the people live in urban areas and this number is rapidly rising.

    It is just that Japan is aging faster than others so it is a model case as the first capitalist country with a shrinking population, which means economic growth is impossible, despite Abenomics rhetoric.

    A key solution requires a change in values where we price agricultural work higher than investment banking and computer programming and value quality food more than electronic trinkets. This would move young people back to the land but it doesn't seem likely in the near future, so we'll just have to watch towns die off and politicians give lip service to the problem.

  • 9

    Daniel Neagari

    @Wakarimasen

    In fact I am one person who wishes to live in rural Japan.... I have been looking for and to be true, there is a lot of bargains, regarding housing in almost every area I look.

    The problem is... what do I do for a job.... Agricultural activities are almost impossible (I do have some basic knowledge though) but the cost to start producing and harvesting are so high... I doubt I could get a reasonable income to be able to pay a basic life standards.

    That does not mean I haven't thought of other jobs, such as, online translation services, consulting and/or teaching languages (this last one, I know I am not apt to do). But still, I am not sure if those activities are going to pay well... Still I think I can do it.

    The biggest problem is that, I can do it if I were alone.. but having a wife and kids, makes thing more difficult. Maybe my wife would come, though until now she hasn't shared the enthusiasm for rural living as I do. But the kids, their education, their healthcare... those factors are the main reason (I think) not to adventure myself to an rural living.

    And I think, that maybe there are a lot of people that think like me.

  • 3

    kaimycahl

    move companies there that would attract young families

  • 0

    Jusen

    If Japan had the energy resources of Saudi Arabia we wouldn't be talking about population decline.

  • 5

    Farmboy

    The problem is... what do I do for a job.... Agricultural activities are almost impossible (I do have some basic knowledge though) but the cost to start producing and harvesting are so high... I doubt I could get a reasonable income to be able to pay a basic life standards.

    I remember reading, many years ago, about a non-Japanese (or maybe the wife was Japanese?) family who started an organic farm in the boonies, but I no longer have a link to the article. A search for Japan and homesteading does turn up some interesting posts, but that one was particularly interesting, and very specific about how they did what they did.

    The article mentioned that because of the drift of young people out of the country, there was land that was abandoned, and which could be had for the cost of the yearly taxes being paid. The town welcomed both the extra income and the people who made that happen, even though they were foreigners.

  • 3

    Jerry Turner

    People follow jobs. If Toyota opens a factory in podunk-kyo, people will move there.

    A huge problem here is the awful housing. In America, people move to the country, buy an old house, fix it up, and retire or start a family. Or some people never leave because they live in the family home for free.

    In Japan, no matter where you move, you will live in a building that will be damn near dilapidated in 20 years. That means building a new house. OKay. So, I will build a new house in the sticks for future generations? No, I have to build a shotty dump that will just be a burden when my kids get older. No wonder kids move to the city. What a headache.

  • 1

    WilliB

    semperfi:

    " US, Canada, UK, Germany, etc. do not experience that same challenges with respect to populations in rural areas declining "

    ....however, the societies are changing drastically in the process. Simply put, the future of Europe is islamic, and the future of the America is hispanic.

    If Japan wants to go that route, I would advice caution as to what society it wants. One thing is for sure: It won´t be Japanese.

  • 1

    Fox Sora Winters

    The problem is, most of the work is in the big cities. If people could travel between the countryside and the cities quickly enough at a low enough cost, then they wouldn't object to living in the countryside. People don't want to spend all day commuting to and from work. They want as much free time as possible, and that means living as close to their jobs as possible. I have no objections to living in the countryside myself. I'm living "in the sticks" as it were right now. I don't mind it, but that's because I don't have far to travel for work. 20 minutes on the bus, not a problem. But some of these places are about 100km away from a big city. That's either a long and expensive train ride, or a long and expensive car journey. There needs to either be a reasonably priced alternative mode of transport, or a more diverse job industry in the countryside.

  • 9

    borscht

    Young people (under 50) don't want to be where there is nothing to do. Old people want to be near a hospital and old friends. Everyone wants a job. These small rural towns provide nothing that anybody wants except for the old people who grew up in them. When these old people die out, the town goes with it.

    If the old people living there want a vital new town, they have to provide things people want: jobs, entertainment, jobs, medical services, jobs, and a cow. Hmm. Maybe not the cow.

  • 2

    senseiman

    The article mentioned that because of the drift of young people out of the country, there was land that was abandoned, and which could be had for the cost of the yearly taxes being paid. The town welcomed both the extra income and the people who made that happen, even though they were foreigners.

    There are a few rural towns that have programs like that, there was a show on TV a few weeks ago about one in Oita prefecture that is doing something like that.

    Part of the problem though is that while they will give you a house and land more or less for free, the cost of making the house habitable is usually several times more than what the property itself is worth, so they dont get too many takers. Youd be looking at a 10-20 million yen investment in a property with a negligible market value just to make it reasonably safe and comfortable (the houses they give away are more or less abandoned death traps).

    Its kind of tempting nonetheless, I have these things in mind as a retirement plan (or if I ever get work that I can do remotely from home). This guy here has a blog about raising a family in the Japanese countryside, it doesn`t look like a bad lifestyle at all:

    http://bastish.net/blog/

  • 3

    tmarie

    The last thing universities should do is open up in the middle of nowhere. Many tried that a decade or two ago with the promise of cheap land and the "if you build it, they will come" line of thinking and those universities are closing up shop and moving back into the cities because students don't want to live in the middle of no where and no one wants to work at them. The Ritsumeikan one survives because of the foreign student/teacher population but if you know of anyone who works there or worked there, they are all dying to get out because there is nothing to do.

    This is the problem with the middle of no where Japan. You have a bunch of failing down buildings, limited shopping and entertainment choices, an elderly population that refuses to change or welcome anyone new into the area, city workers lining their pockets with stupid projects that help no one except themselves and teeth sucking and complaints that these stupid ideas aren't working - I mean seriously, a free cow? Free onsen? Is that really incentive to anyone in their 20s or 30s? Free land, a free house and free schooling would certainly be great but would the old folks in the area really be happy with a bunch of new families moving in and making changes? Nope. Add in the lack of jobs, who in their mind would want to live in the inaka here?

    I enjoy heading to the middle of no where for a weekend away to an onsen but when I get to the area and look around and see the old people who are so set in their ways, the closed shopping areas, the one nasty grocery store that charges insane prices, I'm thankful I live in a decent sized city.

    If Japan wants to do something about this issue, it's going to take a hell of a lot more than a free cow or a bags of rice.

  • 7

    timtak

    There is a load of land in beautiful locations in the Japanese countryside and I have been purchasing some of it, but I wonder if it was a good investment since the urbanisation of Japanese in Japan continues unabated. About 20 years ago cottages and land in the French, Breton countryside could be purchased very cheaply, but then British and Germans bought it and the price went up. Some non-French live there farming or doing creative things. Others purchased cottages as holiday homes -- which tends to help destroy the community, at least so say the Welsh. Will there be an influx of holiday homers to the Japanese countryside? Will foreign writers, artists, and translators come and live there? https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=iwaya&sort=relevance&user_id=64015205%40N00

  • 1

    gaijintraveller

    The countryside needs jobs with opportunities. What work can people find in the countryside? Construction, which is too hard for most, shop assistant, which is badly paid, farming, which no one seems to want to do.

  • -2

    Ooakoto Ootamaka

    Given enough resources, who here wants to have a hundred children? I do!

  • 0

    highball7

    Where are the jobs located? So long as corporation shift to the burbs, jobs will follow. All you need is the right incentive at the right time.

    Look at the State of New York, right now, they are offering 10 years of tax free incentives to new businesses and the right type of businesses to move into NY. Texas started that a few years ago and they definitely saw results.

    California is controlled by the union and a bunch of liberals so business had been moving out. Recently, Toyota and Tesla are 2 big firms moving out or building plants where the right condition apply. Tesla is building a 5 billion plant in Nevada because of the tax advantages there.

    Clearly, Japan would just stop with this stupid Abenomics and enact some useful policies to bring companies and jobs to the right places at the right time, a lot of these problems would be avoided.

  • -1

    ifd66

    The inevitable result of a greedy materialistic system.

  • 1

    senseiman

    The Ritsumeikan one survives because of the foreign student/teacher population but if you know of anyone who works there or worked there, they are all dying to get out because there is nothing to do.

    That is a good point and I should emphasize that I wouldnt hold APU up as a succesful example in that regard. The campus itself is actually built on a mountaintop that is completely seperated from the local town (Beppu) and only reachable by car/ insanely overcrowded bus. It doesnt surprise me to hear of complaints, I wouldn`t really want to work there either for that reason.

    About 20 years ago cottages and land in the French, Breton countryside could be purchased very cheaply, but then British and Germans bought it and the price went up. Some non-French live there farming or doing creative things. Others purchased cottages as holiday homes -- which tends to help destroy the community, at least so say the Welsh. Will there be an influx of holiday homers to the Japanese countryside?

    It is an interesting point of comparison with Breton and I`ve wondered about that myself too - patching up an old farmhouse in the Japanese countryside sounds about as appealing as doing so in the French countryside (in the abstract at least). I suspect freedom of movement within the EU has played a role in promoting that there - it is almost always outsiders who find these places charming and discover the value of them, locals just take them for granted. In Japan, the huge barriers to outsiders coming in and finding the value of these places (some of those barriers being deliberate, others just being the result of geographic and linguistic difficulties) prevent that from happening.

  • 4

    Disillusioned

    School rolls are badly diminished and local services are increasingly too costly to maintain due the shrinking tax base, while the problem hurts the wider economy and exacerbates an already severe public debt crisis.

    This is Japan's biggest hurdle summed up in one paragraph. The pension system has already failed and it's only going to get worse. Aged care facilities are few and extremely expensive. The current government's answer to this crisis is to simply increase taxes and pension instalments. Neither of which are going to do anything to ease the problem. The public debt is an unclimbable mountain and will never decrease, regardless of how much they increase the taxes simply because of the declining workforce. This is Abe's motivation to get more women into the workforce. The more workers they have the more revenue they can raise through taxes. The public health care system has also failed. Japan's economy cannot recover with the narrow minded economic strategies they are using. I agree they need to get people out of the cities and into rural areas, but the government has to restructure its subsidies and priorities to get people out of the cities. A calf or five grand is not gonna entice anybody into rural areas. Japan currently imports around 70% of its food and this number is only going to increase as the population ages and more and more people move to the cities. They should take drastic measures to encourage people into agricultural areas and increase the food output. When Australia was first settled by the British they gave away huge swaths of land under the stipulation it was cleared and the land used for agriculture or horticulture. Japan should be adopting a similar strategy to entice people into rural areas and increase the food production. This would have a double benefit of creating more food and creating economic benefits for rural areas, but these stone headed jijis prefer to look at the stock market of now with very little innovation or predicting the outcome. Japan cannot recover from this economic trend until they thro out the ideologies of old.

  • 7

    GW

    I love the sticks & live somewhat rurally above rice fields, work from home & recently bought a miniature minka that was made 7yrs ago but used a lot of old re-cycled wood, the house took up the lot basically so few takers, a year later snagged for a great price, now converting to my office(45min away from my house which is a cottage!) & am going to by a lot behind to improve parking & make a small garden & can easily by more a joining land fr dirt cheap.

    So I can use for work & am thinking about downsizing & possibly retiring there.

    The problem with the sticks is Japan has know there was problems 30 perhaps 40yrs ago but has done NOTHING!Just let Tokyo & other big cities suck up everything around them. Add to that rural populations want people to live their but mostly on THEIR terms, which are long outdated, so the population continues to decline.

    Sadly for a great many small towns/cities they are likely way past helping. Land reforms are in dire need as well so proper sized farms can be established, but again the oldies fight against it dooming their own towns.......

    Lots of problems, lots of issues, it goes back to how I have been harping that Japan needs to re-invent itself on so many fronts.

    Until it recognizes this & actually seriously looks at its VIABLE option the country will continue to ROT, its sad seeing all these great old homes that actually last if occupied being abandoned left to rot.

    Owners should be held accountable for up keep but aren't, if there were or were FORCED to sell if they are unable there might to MUCH better places to buy for young families instead of getting cheap dilapidated stuff that should have traded hands BEFORE the rot sets in.

    I love the inaka, clean air, BBQ, growing veggies, getting dirty, the quite, and I can also turn up the music or my guitar amp up some. Yeah there is also a lot of work, but Japan should do more so people will go for it & then schools wont have to close & merge

    Japan is losing a LOT by having so much focus on big cities. But as I always say Japanese ALSO need to want to change & a great many DONT, so there we are!

  • 4

    nanotechnology

    populate rural Japan with Filipinos and Lat-Am.

    Even with no employment, as long as there is possibility of eating 3 times a day, they will have more than 3 siblings. My grandfather is a Filipino. They were 9 siblings living in a mountainous region of the Philippines. One of my parents is a Filipino. We are 7 brothers and sisters. Three of us went to USA. I have only two kids. But my two brothers who got Latin-American wives have each 6 and 8 children, even though their salaries are only a little over 50% of mine.

  • 4

    hampton

    Big government projects aimed more at winning votes than economic growth would only inflate one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens, Kumano said.

    “The era of excessive spending on random public works projects is over,” he said.

    I just laughed so hard it hurts.

  • 1

    FizzBit

    Green Acres is the place to be. Farm livin' is the life for me. Land spreadin' out so far and wide, keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

  • 5

    In_japan

    Seems like perfect area to reloacte marines from Futenma instead of Oura bay at Nago, Okinawa. Only 379 residents to satisfy. Just saying

  • 5

    Frungy

    The problem here is Japanese businesses' backward business model.

    Traditionally workers come into the office. Now this used to make sense, but if you look at Tokyo salaries compared to national averages it is costing companies in Tokyo about 200% more to have employees in Tokyo. Not to mention the immense monthly cost of the space occupied by a single desk in Tokyo (about 10 000yen per square meter at commercial rates, so you add that directly to salary costs).

    This doesn't make sense since only a small fraction of employees interact face-to-face with customers. Most employees work on computers, and that work can be done anywhere.

    It also sucks for employees. Yes, young employees may want to experience the big city life, but most people get sick of it after a few years. They get sick of the crowded trains, the tiny cramped apartments, the ridiculously expensive ... well, everything.

    Telecommuting would reduce business costs, make Japanese firms more internationally competitive and people would choose where to live based on property costs. After all, if I can work from anywhere then why not live somewhere with clean air, space for my children to play and a lower cost of living?

  • 1

    turbotsat

    turbostat: Try municipality-provided broadband, carshare, bus transport, etc. Discount or gratis tickets for bullet train or airliners, so they can enjoy the city life every few months. Buy some condo units in Tokyo etc. and timeshare them to the citizens for quarterly vacations.

    What?!? 4 downvotes net? What's wrong with those ideas? Got any better?

  • 2

    In_japan

    @ turobotstat: What's wrong with those ideas?

    Now 5 :) Sorry your idea will enhance the process. title of the article "Demographic crisis empties out Japan's rural areas".

  • 5

    sighclops

    @samwatters is right. I'd throw in the overbearing sense of self-entitlement being the root of that problem.

    On another note, the problem is that Tokyo is too centralised. I've lived in the rural parts, as well as a five-year tenure in Tokyo and the problem became crystal clear. Too many companies want the 'prestige' of a central Tokyo address and would never consider moving their headquarters (and making arrangements for their staff) elsewhere. I understand that being central has various benefits (esp. when meeting clients), but as Frungy pointed out, a large percentage just sit behind a desk all day.

    It makes zero sense having 36 million people all commuting to and from a relatively tiny city at the same time each morning & night (Tokyo itself is only 50km x 50km). It's absolute hell for the commuters among us, especially those coming from Chiba, Saitama & Kanagawa.

  • 3

    senseiman

    What?!? 4 downvotes net? What's wrong with those ideas? Got any better?

    I didn`t downvote you, but suspect it might have been this one:

    Discount or gratis tickets for bullet train or airliners, so they can enjoy the city life every few months.

    In other words, attract people to the countryside by making it easier for them to leave the countryside? Sounds kind of counterintuitive.

  • -1

    MGigante

    A free cow? Talk about out of touch. Lowering taxes to attract businesses is the smart move, but it needs to be supported by building proper infrastructure.

    Building bridges and tunnels, and expanding railways (not just the ones that lead to Tokyo), ports and airports in the inaka is going to be necessary to break through the isolation the country faces. A nation-wide increase in the speed-limit to the tune of 10km more wouldn't hurt either.

    Furthermore, completely reforming the agricultural system is necessary. Its great that people have their own personal farms, but that is not working, and it is not going to work. Mechanized farming, and proper land utilization in the inaka has to be made much better. Those infrastructure expansions will help get more people in the inaka, as well as help expand business.

    The inaka is totally set in their ways, and its almost a different world from city Japan. But its beautiful, and there is no reason why so many people should be fleeing. In some cases, we're talking prime real estate next to gorgeous beaches, in the shadows of beautiful mountains.

    Ultimately, its going to be up to companies to make the real changes, but the government can help by allocating that 1trillion yen to infrastructure projects and allowing towns and villages to cut/remove taxes on certain businesses. I guess we'll see what happens, Japan is beautiful, so here's hoping something can change in the near future.

  • 3

    wtfjapan

    i cant understand the need to hang onto the past, yes remeber your heritage but dont live in it. Japanese and many other cultures where very different 500~1000years ago. and theyll be very different again in another 500~1000years in the future. change will happen no matter how hard you fight it. nature even shows us that those that fail to adapt become extinct

  • 3

    senseiman

    Building bridges and tunnels, and expanding railways (not just the ones that lead to Tokyo), ports and airports in the inaka is going to be necessary to break through the isolation the country faces.

    Not to be blunt, but this point seems completely out of touch. Rural Japan is already awash with useless infrastructure projects of this exact type. The whole government policy towards economic development in rural areas has consisted of almost nothing but building bridges, tunnels and railways in the countryside and it has been a complete failure. Railway lines have been closing down all over the place simply because they can`t operate at anywhere near a profitable level in many communities, so buliding more of those will just be throwing good money after bad. Ditto with bridges and roads, the cost of maintaining these things are a massive drain on resources that produce almost no economic benefit.

  • -1

    turbotsat

    @senseiman @In_japan

    The idea is people can live nicely in country, have a nice city vacation in village-owned condos once in a while. Use the city's cars not for commute but occasional visits.

  • 0

    cleo

    the problem with Japan is the elderly. Not only are there way too many of them and not only are they consuming far more than they contributed

    Got any figures to back up that ridiculous statement? Who do you think built modern Japan? (Hint - it wasn't the bright young things now flocking to the cities)

    When I retire I quite fancy having a free cow. Or even a couple of goats. And some chickens.

  • 0

    Nessie

    Ritsumeikan set up its Asia-Pacific University Campus (which I have been to, its fairly big by Japanese standards) in rural Oita prefecture.

    They also have a large campus in Oshamanbe, Hokkaido. The campus is so big and empty it almost has a post-apocalyptic feel.

  • 0

    sf2k

    I was thinking that demographic problems like this make TPP and other trade agreements counter productive. Countries with younger populations will outperform and undermine local capacity even further. Job losses in small towns with limited economic output are more severe than in cities with the ability to evolve. When enough energy problems begin to show themselves I think the world will go post-trade agreement so this may not end up being a fatal problem. The towns will be there when Japan needs them, but more should be done to keep them active.

    Oil is not infinite, so eventually more people will have to farm than currently. At least the land will be there.

    Another idea is that Tokyo is full and any further development must occur outside of it. It would drive development scales increasingly outwards. Also considering the energy inputs needed to ship all the food to 30 million people a day it would be more energy efficient to start reducing the Tokyo population and spread it around. All eggs in one basket does not resilience make. The resilience factor of smaller towns will eventually save them, but only as energy of scale diminishes. We'll see if it's in time.

  • 0

    sangetsu03

    Simply reduce the cost of living in Japan. People aren't having children because they can't afford to feed and raise them. Food costs two-to-three times in Japan what it does in Europe and America, thanks to food tariffs of up to 700%, and Japan applies consmption tax to food, making it even more expensive. Then add the extra costs incurred by price-fixing for goods and services, and import restrictions of many cheaper imported goods, it is simply too expensive to raise a family.

    The high costs have resulted in delfation in recent years as the reduced demand of the market has driven prices down. The natural result of overly high costs is delfation. But then the government tries to cause inflation to balance it's books, which makes raising children more expensive.

    We don't need any subsidies for families, we just need need to get rid of the high tariffs, poor business practices, and other things which make raising children too expensive.

  • 3

    senseiman

    Food costs two-to-three times in Japan what it does in Europe and America

    For about 90% of the stuff in most supermarkets, this is simply untrue. The cost of groceries in Japan is no more expensive than it is in my home country (Canada) and for a lot of items prices are considerably cheaper.

    There are a few items (rice, apples) where trade barriers do inflate prices, but my family grocery expenses here are actually less in Japan than they are in Canada. Unless you do all your shopping in the luxury goods section of Mitsukoshi and have a specific taste for the few things which are in fact more expensive here I have no idea how you can be paying 2 to 3 times more for food.

  • 5

    Qamar

    I have lived most of my life in a nearly-sticks environment. My mother's family are farmers, so I was brought up to love the lush green and hate on concrete. Japan, like my country, seems not to appreciate or sustain farming too much, or other agricultural activities. What you put into Tokyo will stay into Tokyo, I mean if you invest in only one area you will get people going there only not people spreading out. I have friends from countryside areas in Japan and they all have apartments in Tokyo and tell me they had to go live there to make a living. Furthermore, yes, young people will usually prefer cities (unless they're claustrophobic and farm-life loving like me) because they will meet more people, more possibilities of good-paying work and more chances of life-changing encounters etc. What can you do in a farm area? Well, if you have the money, try farming or raising animals and selling organic products (making wine also maybe! THAT sells!), organic products should fetch a higher price, but also need more money and time invested ofc. Maybe, work from home, translation work for example, or actually opening up an online business.. well not much money for the start, but eventually, hopefully. But, I still think that you move to a rural community when you're still without children. I mean, you need resources to build up and be secure and able to maintain a family before adding members. Sorry for the long post.

  • 2

    sangetsu03

    For about 90% of the stuff in most supermarkets, this is simply untrue. The cost of groceries in Japan is no more expensive than it is in my home country (Canada) and for a lot of items prices are considerably cheaper.

    Americans pay an average of 4.6% for food, Europeans spend 5.9%, in Japan the number is over 12%. Median income affects the numbers, Japan's median income is $26,000 per year. After purchaes of staples, Japan rates 22nd on the OECD scale of median income

    It is quite fun paying 6 or 7 times as much for rice, buying an apple which costs as much as a bag of apples in America, or a loaf of 6 slices which is half the size as an American loaf, but costs 1/3 more. Here I pay as much for 1/4 of a watermelon as two complete melons in America, or paying 1/3 more in Japan for a cheeseburger at McDonalds.

    I don't know about Canada, but I wish If 90% of the things I buy in Japanese markets were as cheap as they are in America or France.

  • -1

    cleo

    6 or 7 times as much for rice, buying an apple which costs as much as a bag of apples in America, or a loaf of 6 slices which is half the size as an American loaf, but costs 1/3 more. Here I pay as much for 1/4 of a watermelon as two complete melons in America, or paying 1/3 more in Japan for a cheeseburger at McDonalds

    GMO-free food in Japan, vs you've no idea whether it's GMO-free or not because Monsanto refuses to allow proper labelling, and virtually everything contains HFCS. Look at average waistlines, and it's pretty obvious Japan is doing something right with its food that America isn't.

    Prices as cheap as in America, but with unlabelled American quality - no thanks. With food, on the whole you get what you pay for.

    If you find food prices hurting, try your local farmers' market.

  • 4

    senseiman

    According to this:

    http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparecountriesresult.jsp?country1=Japan&country2=United+States

    Grocery prices are only about 14% higher in Japan than the US, based on a list of commodities which (except rice) is heavily reflective of a western diet. Higher, but hardly 2 to 3 times as much, and if you adapt yourself to local tastes there are tons of ways to reduce your grocery bill much further. All of the commodities you list are ones in which Japanese prices are indeed inflated but they are not representative of all food prices as a whole (bread, incidentally, costs less in Japan according to the above source).

    Also note that it states restaurant prices are about 20% higher in the US. Not sure if that includes the additional cost of tipping and drinks (often complementary at Japanese restaurants at lunch, while a major way to gouge customers in North America). I definitely eat out way more in Japan than I did back home as a direct result of the lower cost.

    Also I have no idea what you are talking about with regard to McDonald's. I paid 500 yen for a full Big Mac set just last week, which I believe is about $4.75 US. That is way cheaper than I would pay back home.

  • 5

    Farmboy

    I second the motion, or third it, that food in Japan is not so expensive, and usually tastes better. I was in the US recently, and was kind of shocked at how expensive things had become... The Fuji apples I bought there weren't too bad, but not much cheaper. The apples that tasted like cardboard were very cheap, but who wants to eat them?

  • 2

    Supey11

    Regarding food in Japan as well as what the country-side here has to offer:

    Go to any decent sized supermarket and buy some broccoli. Get a head of Japanese broccoli, as well as one from America at about 40% less price (give or take 10%) even though it traveled half way around the planet to get here. Just read the Katakana, it will say "American broccoli".

    Go home and boil each in separate pots for a minute or two. Then taste them plain (without salt, sauce, or dressing)

    You will never buy the cheap import again.

    This is one thing I hope never become "westernized" no matter how desperate things get.

  • 8

    Star-viking

    Rural Japan says:

    Please come live in our wonderful municipalities!

    The rest of Japan says:

    If they are so wonderful, why do you need to advertise?

    Rural Japan says:

    Because people keep moving out. We can't understand it, as we are 'The Heart of Japan'.

    The rest of Japan says:

    Hmmm.

    Rural Japan says:

    Please come, we will give you some goodies!

    The rest of Japan says:

    Well...what else is there for me?

    Rural Japan says:

    We will spy and gossip about you, complain about your habits, castigate you for being a troublemaker. Make your life hell, and stuff like that.

    The rest of Japan says:

    Wha? How could I be a troublemaker?

    Rural Japan says:

    Because you break the rules.

    The rest of Japan says:

    How can you say that!?

    Rural Japan says:

    Because our rules are unwritten, and we won't tell you them! Please come to our wonderful municipality, and experience our fulfilling life.

    The rest of Japan says:

    COMMENT CENSORED FOR PROFANITY

  • 2

    JTDanMan

    No sex incentives, no child.

    That's what the cow is...

  • -1

    toshiko

    @kaimycahlSEP. 10, 2014 - 10:37AM JST move companies there that would attract young families

    '''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

    In Southern Japan, around Seto-naikia shore, cities and villages buried seashores and created inductrial areas. then these companies could not employ enough locals and villages and towns watched too many populations. Check Hidoshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi and several Kyushu prefectures. If one of industries close, another comes. Mazda came after Japan Monopoly Salt mines closed in Hofu. Cities did not offer money or cow, Just friendly to corporations. Climate differ than north but offering cows and money are not solution. Northern cities should tap Japan Inc. Well, many Japan Inc sprouted from Southern Japan so it is not easy for Notrhern Japan.

  • 1

    gelendestrasse

    Guess telecommuting is out because you can't have the Thursday drinking session with the rest of the office staff? Although I have to agree that village gossip will drive the "outsider" right back to Tokyo, unless he's got a real thick skin. And the kids in the school - that would be a disaster, probably. Or I'm sure most gaijin/nihon marriages would expect trouble.

    That said, it's a trend all over the world. In the US Midwest there are ghost towns now because agriculture requires so few people. High tech requires collaboration and you don't get that in the middle of Nebraska. Or Nagano.

  • 0

    cleo

    Although I have to agree that village gossip will drive the "outsider" right back to Tokyo, unless he's got a real thick skin.

    I guess I must have a really thick skin, then....

    And the kids in the school - that would be a disaster, probably.

    Nope. The kids did fine. Shone, actually.

    Or I'm sure most gaijin/nihon marriages would expect trouble.

    Nope.

  • 1

    toshiko

    There are advantage in children whose family speak with Tokyo accent. They usually do super and often mistaken as a genius. English and Japanese using families children, they do best in English classes. Often locals are jealous/envious of Tokyo accent speakers. In Northern Japan, inviting manufacturers are more effective, I think. Maybe plant barleys and wheats for booze companies such as Kyowa Hakko Kirin?

  • 0

    Fadamor

    “But the situation has been getting worse and worse—we haven’t found the kind of radical steps needed to stop the trend,” a Nanmoku official said.

    The problem seems to be they're only looking for "radical steps" when a common everyday step would do nicely. As others have said (to the point of exhaustion), there are literally MILLIONS of people around the world who would love to come to Japan and set up farms/businesses in small towns. Compared to their current conditions, residing in a small-town setting would be a marked step up.

  • 0

    jounetsuyume

    what attracts anyone anywhere usually? a better life... which means a stable economy and jobs... which requires industry of some kind...

  • 2

    Kobuta Chan

    Japanese manufacturing industry needs more investing in Japan country side rather than overseas for cheap labors. Our Shima is 5 hrs ferry journey to Sasebo but there's not much manufactures in Sasebo area and so young peoples have to move to Kansai or Kanto for job after they have graduated from High School. So they can't visit often to their parent or their villages. Once our Shima has had population of 5 or 600 but now only left with about 50. The 3 story School building was filling with only 10 or 15 pupils in difference grades. Our last visit to Shima was 12 years ago and found most of homes are empty and some are irreparable stage because no one has living there and even no one has coming back annually and sleep for one night in the house.

    I believe the country folks will happy to take 2/3 wages of their city folks earn in Tokyo and Osaka in their home town rather than moving to city for more money. If they have job in nearest city and then they come back and visit home every weekend. Government needs to create more job opportunity for country folks.

    Also Japanese Company should know about Made in Japan products are more popular than Made in somewhere else or their foreign rival Company's products in developed and developing countries. Japanese Company must do more for country folks and improve quality in their products rather than quantity and profit margin.

  • 2

    CheeseHeadNL

    As a result, Japan’s countryside is emptying out at an alarming rate, in a demographic shift that by government estimates will see the population drop to 86 million over the next four decades from about 127 million now.

    I don't know where this number comes from, but according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (2012) the population is projected to drop to 97.076 million in 2050.

  • -1

    toshiko

    It is inside of Mishima City, Shizuoka-ken

    Mishima is a major industrial center within Shizuoka Prefecture. In addition to a railroad repair facility operated by JR Central, the city hosts factories from: Toray DMW Corporation Toshiba TEC Corporation Yokohama Rubber Company CFS Corporation (HAC Drugstores) Izuhakone Railway Company Ltd

    Toray is Toyo Raiyon , one of biggest textile manufacturer.

    Yokohama Rubber export to USA.

    So. there are big Japan Inc there, Maybe there is not enough residential properties? Cows in Shizuoka. This is niot Northern Japan. Sorry I thought North so I suggested farmers plant barley and wheat for beers, but found it is Shimzu in Shizuoka, Tokugawa Tonosama's territory in feudal eras.

  • 1

    frank07

    I would move there if rent was dirt-cheap, accessible by rail, and I had a job where I could telecommute.

  • -1

    turbotsat

    Do like China does. No hukou, no flat in the city. Boondock's fill up fast then.

  • -1

    toshiko

    There are National Universities such as Tokyo U, Kyoto U, etc. (Koku-ritsu) then each prefecture has one or more Prefecture Univ. (Ken-ritsu) In some areas, City Univ. They were usually built on quiet isolated areas in prefectures. Far from smogs and noize. Dorms (kishuku-sha) and there are private apartment houses. Beside that, there are girls colleges and Univs everywhere in Japan. It is not school problems in Japan. Housing. Not transportation problems. Just people do not want to work on farmings with out of dated equipments. Japanese people do not die easily so there are more older people living in Japan. You can not exterminate them because they are old. Maybe Japan should raise retirement ages to 10 more years longer? BTW the place article wrote as an example is famous on tourism. Iyeyasu Tokugawa was from there, moved to yedo (Tokyo) to establish Shogun system, Tourisms are busy.

  • 3

    tmarie

    Who do you think built modern Japan?

    The Americans?

  • 1

    Farmboy

    This is niot Northern Japan. Sorry I thought North so...

    I think you were right the first time, but I still don't know where it is. Mishima in Shizuoka has over 100,000 people, and isn't really remote. The Mishima in the story has 379 people.

    They do say that it is a remote southern village, but it must mean a remote southern part of Ayukawa. I'm not sure, though. I can't find it on a map of that area.

  • -1

    ProudJapanese

    @Starviking are you a Japanese? You know well LOL

  • 2

    Star-viking

    Cleo,

    "Although I have to agree that village gossip will drive the "outsider" right back to Tokyo, unless he's got a real thick skin."

    I guess I must have a really thick skin, then....

    That is actually a good point. As a Westerner, I really don't mind the gossip - I stick out like a sore thumb, and just don't care that much what the locals think. However, my better half is Japanese, and it really stresses her out.

  • 0

    Julia Howe

    A cow? Bag of rice? Are you kidding me :D that's the lamest incentive I've ever heard of.

    How about this: Start a movie studio where the land is cheap. Encourage film makers , dancers, artists, musicians, specialfx engineers, and young actresses to take classes for free Have housing they can rent for cheap and if they stay there, for every month they live there.. They get another entry to win free land, commercial office space, cows, chickens, whatever.. Throw everything at the wall. Women with children get free healthcare and child care (daycare) so they can pursue their dreams. Winner of the bi-annual film festival gets tickets to Hollywood, New York, Paris.. Wherever they draw their inspiration.

    I guarantee you.. The population trend will reverse itself once the town is producing something culturally and globally relevant.

    //I'm half japanese. Still think the rice is a stupid incentive.

  • 0

    cleo

    Star-viking - My better half is also Japanese, and he doesn't give a d@mn, never has.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    Lowering taxes to attract businesses is the smart move, but it needs to be supported by building proper infrastructure.

    You have to realize that this has to be done at the prefectural and national level and would need legislation as well. Local communities taxes are pretty much set, what they could do is provide land and infrastructure support.

  • 0

    justbcuzisay

    Yoshiko-like farmboy said this is not Mishima Shizuoka. That Mishima also is a Shinkansen stop only 40 minutes or so from Tokyo so people commute to Tokyo easily

  • 0

    ensnaturae2

    I do not know how well the schemes progress, surely one excellent government idea...must be the arts villages ...there are a number of them up and running in rural locations, eg http://www.transartists.org/air/akiyoshidai-international-art-village... and as far as I know...they bring tourism and new jobs/new lives, to places that had been abandoned. This is a familiar story...globally. ..those people interested in art/creativity for its own sake...who appreciate adventure maybe or wild beauty or a thousand other aspects of a life where everything is possible...but perhaps very little or nothing provided for the usual, preferred comfortable life...will be sure to seek out, and find, the worlds most beautiful...undervalued unappreciated places ...as work places and for their homes. Artists communities are most often the places that begin poor ...and end expensive. The gentrification of those areas of New York, for example - that were once rambling and chaotic mixes of abandoned industrial buildings and collapsing tenements...become prized locations in the same way... as artists move in and make them their own...but soon cannot afford to pay to live there any more. I remember when it was cheap and easy to find a room just off the Kings Road..Quentin Crisp was a neighbour in those days..it was a cheap and colorful life. The same kind of communities developed in many poor places of UK...and spread through Europe...many parts of France remain arts centres ..but the cheap homes and workshps disappear...as travelling to find a new home...becomes so much cheaper and easier. Compare this kind of exodus and development..to the state of rural Japan. so beautiful, so cheap, so rich in culture and art already... but still...as yet...mysterious and inaccessible ...as a new home or work base...for creative people worldwide...The lack of real information that might indicate safe or less safe bits of the landscape..diminishes the potential. However...since I first came to Japan accessibility has changed drastically..fares are becoming ridiculously cheap..around 500e ...and the possibility of finding a glorious bolt hole in the hills of Japan, or on its empty , dreamlike coastline..once unimaginable... is fast becoming easy to pick up like a nut fallen from a tree..So much changes so fast. the internet will sell those lovely parts of Japan...I hope they will be protected and treasured.

  • 1

    toshiko

    The village that was in this article is not the one I thought. Somewhere in remote area that is not even be on any map. But I still think it is more effective in inviting factories and creating affordable housings in area than giving rice, cow, etc.

  • 0

    Harvey Manning

    As a Brit who has lived in Japan for over 10 years I have to say that the best part of living in Japan is that it has not lost its cultural identity as my home land has. I would hate to see Japan copy Europe and America and let in hordes of Emigrants who take over districts and whole towns and change the character of the country.

    I find Japan very child friendly but it needs to make changes to the system to encourage couples t0 want to have larger families. Tax breaks and more help with higher education expenses.

    Okinawa does not have a population problem, families seem much closer and grandparents play a much bigger part in looking after kids than they do in the mainland. Having lived in Okinawa for the first half of my time in Japan i notice a big difference. But having said that the smaller islands have a similar problem to the mainland.

    But if Japan needs labour from overseas then it should learn from the mistakes made in the west and put a time limit on residency.

  • -1

    MapleG

    I know people in Canada who would gladly retire and live in a small Japanese village in Kyushu. Nicer winter in Kyushu, than say Winnipeg.

    Of course, it can't actually happen because Japan will easily let foreigners retire to Japan or live there.

    Such a shame, and having at one time in my life studied demographics, Japan really has not fully grasped what its future will hold with a declining and aging population. Without youth, the economy will stagger and retract..many places will end up as virtual ghost towns

  • 0

    MapleG

    Oops--forgot the word not in my earlier posting...it should have read "because Japan will NOT easily let foreigners retire to Japan..."

  • 0

    JeffLee

    "Japan really has not fully grasped what its future will hold with a declining and aging population."

    Well, it is happening, and no Japan isn't in a crisis. In fact, living standards are rising, while in other developed countries with mass immigration and growing population, the quality of life is arguably falling.

    Declining populations are often accompanied by per capita income gains. In shrinking Russia, incomes have tripled over the past 15 years,

    Also note that demographers have a terrible record making predictions. Remember the "population bomb"? LOL.

  • -1

    sfjp330

    Harvey Manning Sep. 12, 2014 - 12:15AM JST But if Japan needs labour from overseas then it should learn from the mistakes made in the west and put a time limit on residency.

    They already have. Problem is that South Korea offers 9 years and Taiwan offers 12 years in the working visa. Japan offers three years, and many of the qualified candidates from Southeast Asia choose not to go to Japan because of the limitations. Japan cannot compete with these two countries on getting qualified candidates from Southeast Asia to work in Japan. If Japan keeps the same visa rules, they will be left behind.

  • -3

    HaraldBloodaxe

    Simple solution for at least part of this problem:

    The farming families left destitute in the north-east be given government funding to relocate to these areas and bring their invaluable skills and knowledge of the land with them.

    Of course, they are reluctant to leave the land their family has worked for generations, but thanks to TEPCO negligence it's now irradiated, unworkable, and if properly labelled will have to be sold at discount price. Thus, for decades, they'll be dependent on government handouts for decades, and we all know what that does for morale. At the moment, they are farmers without workable land.

    Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, there are thousands of acres of land without farmers, and the communities there are dying out for want of new blood. Imagine what a fillip a new influx of expert farming families would be for these areas. Not only for the farms, but all the satellite industries which could develop around them - markets, schools, hospitals.

    Would it be expensive? Of course. But no more expensive than generations of handouts to two areas of the country left moribund by inaction.

    Who's with me?

  • 0

    Tamarama

    This is a great discussion, one that particularly interests me, because not only is Japan's mass migration to urbanised environments a fascinating modern story but the abundance of cheap rural land in beautiful locations is something that particularly interests me and my wife, and we intend to buy somewhere coastal fairly soon.

    The problem is that this process is going to continue over the course of the next 20-30 years, and land and houses in some places in the hinterland will quite literally be worth basically nothing, because the land tax is payable every year and many people do not want or can't afford the burden of paying for something that is just a financial liability. You buy in the knowledge that it is not an investment in the same way real estate is in other places.

    People might have other views, and I'd be interested to hear their thoughts on this, but that's the way it seems to me at this stage.

  • -1

    HaraldBloodaxe

    Hmmm...three thumbs down for offering a solution? I'd love to hear a rebuttal from one of my critics. What's wrong with the idea?

  • -1

    JTDanMan

    Harald,

    You asked whose with you. Not, if you oppose, state why.

  • -1

    HaraldBloodaxe

    Dan,

    No, I asked "Who's with me", not "whose", and subsequently asked those who oppose me to state why.

    So you're wrong twice. Not a situation with which you're unfamiliar, I'm sure.

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