When it comes to the nation's economy, there's actually two of them.

In "Japan A," an urban-industrial corridor stretching about 300 miles (483 km) from Tokyo through Osaka, you'll find cutting-edge businesses and world-class wealth. In "Japan B," which is just about everywhere else, small cities and towns are dying as people move to Japan A in search of opportunity.

While other major developed economies are headed down a similar path, Japan has a head start when it comes to aging and depopulation, making it a cautionary tale for policymakers across the globe.