• Kyodo

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Some 15 percent of municipal governments across Japan saw an improvement in economic conditions in their regions in the last year, slightly exceeding those seeing a deterioration, according to a recent survey by Kyodo News.

The survey suggests that a limited number of municipalities have enjoyed an economic boost by successfully attracting tourists and corporations, as 66 percent said economic conditions changed little over the past year.

The survey was conducted from November to January, targeting 1,788 local governments across Japan. Responses came in from 1,720 of them.

Many of the governments enjoying economic improvement cited an increase in the number of tourists to their municipalities, while many of those experiencing a deterioration blamed population falls.

In Okinawa, where tourism is growing, 37 percent of local governments reported favorable developments over the year, against 5 percent who said their economy worsened.

For instance, the city of Miyakojima in Okinawa said the number of tourists “increased substantially,” while the village of Nakagusuku said its population “grew dramatically in recent years,” partly due to people relocating from other areas.

In contrast, Hokkaido, which was hit by more typhoons than usual last summer, had a large proportion of negative reports: 23 percent of the prefecture’s local governments reported economic deterioration, while 11 percent reported improvement.

“Agriculture, the main industry of our town, was hit by poor harvests caused by prolonged rains as well as typhoon damage,” the government in the town of Shimizu said.

The Chugoku region and Shikoku saw relatively solid economic performance.

Among municipalities that reported bleak views, the town of Hichiso in Gifu Prefecture said, “More and more businesses have closed down as the population has declined rapidly.”

The city of Masuda, Shimane Prefecture, said the size of the local economy has been shrinking, given the falling and graying population and declining birthrate.

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