After having appeared recently on the BBC, Marketplace and NPR talking about depopulation in the Seto Inland Sea, it occurs to me that I have not written expansively enough on this topic for The Japan Times. I have merely been an observer of the depopulation phenomenon on these pages.

The rapid decrease in Japan's population is most evident in the countryside and on islands like mine. In fact, here on Shiraishi, the population has dropped from more than 900 when I first arrived in 1997 to the current 563.

A recent Cabinet Office survey asked people in rural areas what the main problems were that they faced living in the countryside. The top answers were scarcity of jobs, lack of transportation and a shortage of shopping and entertainment facilities. The same survey asked residents what was needed to encourage more people to relocate to their area, and the answers were the same.