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Japan's Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century: Contemporary Responses to Depopulation ...

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Japan's Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century:

Prologue

Throughout the post-Second World War era, depopulation has been occurring across almost the whole of rural Japan. In the 21st century this trend continues, broadening and accelerating to include most prefectural urban centres and even some metropolitan districts of the country. During the early postwar decades, this took place mainly in the more remote rural locales—namely, the mountainous hinterlands of Japan’s four principal islands of Hokkaid, Honsh, Kysh, and Shikoku, as well as in the hundreds of smaller populated islands that compose the Japanese archipelago. This process of rural shrinkage was occurring in the broader context of a rapid and continuous increase in the overall population of the country, and therefore much of the rural decline that took place at that time was simply a consequence of the emigration of younger people to urban areas in search of employment as well as educational and social opportunities. As remote rural areas shrank and the national population grew, urban areas experienced a commensurate increase in population and in social and economic vitality.