Areas outside big cities to face drops in young women: study


Local authorities are alarmed by a projection that a drop in young women in provincial areas over the next 30 years may result in major population declines in towns and cities across Japan.

The experts who produced the estimate, which was released Thursday, recommended measures to fight the population decline, but after trying various initiatives, local governments appear to lack further ideas.

Based on data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the Japan Policy Council estimated that in 2040, 896 municipalities, or 49.8 percent of overall municipalities, will see their populations of women in their 20s and 30s decline by more than half from levels in 2010.

The demographic prediction was made by a panel of experts in the think tank who warn that local communities will likely break down and that smaller municipalities may find it difficult to operate because of ongoing population decline prompted in part by a drop in age groups that are actively reproducing.

The study projected the population of Muroto, Kochi Prefecture, will fall to about 5,000 in 2040, a third of the city’s current population, and the number of women in their 20s and 30s will drop to 156, down 83.4 percent.

Behind the anticipated sharp drop is an outflow of young people to cities as a result of the decline of the fishing industry, the key industry in the coastal city.

“We have been working to secure jobs and enhance childcare, but there is no decisive measure. (The city) may just disappear if left as it is,” a city official said.

The city of Omuta, in Fukuoka Prefecture, saw its population decline from about 200,000 to 120,000 following the closure of a coal mine. The city had a policy of trying to increase its population but is now focused on slowing the pace of decline.

The city government has been encouraging people to move in from other parts of the country but has achieved only limited results.

“I hear that relocation (to the countryside) is popular across the country, but we have more people dying (than newcomers),” a municipal government official said.

The city of Akita has a sizable population of 320,000 but a drastic fall was projected by the study, even though it is a prefectural capital. “There is no vitality in the area and there are no jobs,” said a 22-year-old man looking for work. “I hope some measures are taken soon.”

Akita Prefecture has been working with the private sector to hold events such as match-making parties, but a prefectural official said it “could not stop the population decline.”

Alarmed by the declining population, the prefectural government Wednesday set up a task force on population problems chaired by Gov. Norihisa Satake and began studying measures to halt the decline jointly with a project team comprising veteran officials.

While female populations are anticipated to fall in the majority of municipalities, a few localities were even able to project an increase.

The population of Hiezu, a village adjacent to Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, is expected to rise to 3,657 in 2040 from the current 3,300, with the number of young women also forecast to grow 6.8 percent to 450.

  • Same thing is happening in Korea too, where as a result, more than 35% of the farmers and fishermen choose foreign brides.

    Women see T.V dramas, and foreign programs, they want their life to be as wonderful and cushy as those programs are too. For only a few of them, it will be. Nevertheless, they want to go where they will feel cosmopolitan and “appreciated”, to the higher-paying and more flexible, less-labor intensive jobs…and to the areas with richer marriage prospects; *insert statistics about rate of women returning to work after marriage and kids here*.

    In response, men who prefer to live in the countryside or farmers who work and reside there will start importing brides, as there is nothing to pick from in the inaka. As this becomes more common, feminist groups will get up in arms about “buying wives”, and conservatives will get all up in arms about “immigrants feeding off the system” and bleeding hearts will get up in arms about “The problems of assimilation for the foreign brides”, and them the latter two will clash over this topic, and so on and so forth.

    Please observe that when these country women are doing exactly what they want to do no one bats an eyelid, if anything there is a “You go!” attitude in response to “Moving into the city to achieve my dreamz!!!!” country-girls (with the media sure to run an article or two on the handful who stay, dubbing them some cutesy variation of “ガール”, and lauding the desirability of being a country-ガール; with men getting no such embarrassing romanticizations about their own roles) .

    And then when the men (who would have otherwise chosen local Japanese women) deal with this situation and *they* do what *they* want to do, just as the women did, the reaction is the polar opposite. All of a sudden, “That’s not acceptable” or “This is a problem.”, or as it was labelled in Korea, “a crisis”. Worst of all, no correlation between the choices of these women, and the consequential choices of the men, nor the double-standard evaluation of the choices of each, is ever made.