In Shimukappu, a village in Hokkaido and home to a popular skiing resort, residents are to reopen the sole gas station, which closed four years ago as sales declined.

It's a similar story elsewhere in the country, where oil demand has dropped by nearly a third since 2000 as the country's population dwindles and new car sales are also down by around a third since 1990.

With that waning demand, the number of gas stations, which also supply winter heating fuel, has roughly halved from a 1995 peak to 31,000 nationwide.