It's noon on a warm day in the Akita Prefecture town where Yoshihide Suga, Japan's next prime minister, grew up, but more than half the stores in a downtown shopping arcade are shuttered and sidewalks are empty except for the rare older passerby.

A building proclaiming "I Love Yuzawa" stands abandoned. A giant department store nearby hulks over the street, mostly unusable because it doesn't meet earthquake safety standards but is too expensive to tear down.

The remote part of Yuzawa where Suga grew up, 480 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, captures key challenges his administration will face: Half the residents in the area are over 60. Depopulation and aging have meant a dramatic fall in tax revenue, pushing the town’s government, reliant on support from Tokyo, to consider merging with other towns in Akita Prefecture.