In her Aug. 26 Japan Lite column, Amy Chavez described the demographic crisis on the Seto Inland Sea island of Shiraishi, where the population is shrinking and aging as young people seek out opportunities on the mainland.

The writer paints a depressing picture of rural depopulation, which is gradually hollowing out communities across Japan. Chavez comes to the conclusion that "the government can help . . . but it is ultimately the responsibility of the communities to help themselves."

Although this existential problem is threatening communities across the length and breadth of the archipelago, there are some positive examples of towns and villages that have bucked the trend by challenging the status quo. Their stories need to be told, not least because they can offer lessons to other small communities struggling to stanch the flow of young people to nearby cities.