The Noto Peninsula earthquake has triggered a severe outflow of young people, leaving the region struggling to rebuild. Local residents are increasingly concerned that there will be no one left to carry out the lengthy “creative reconstruction” that Ishikawa Prefecture is aiming for.

In Wajima and Suzu, the two cities hardest hit by the earthquake, the population of those under 30 has decreased by about 12% and 8%, respectively, compared with a year ago. In contrast, those over 70 years old decreased by about 4% and 5%, respectively, highlighting a more serious exodus of younger residents.

Toshio Itoya, 69, a community leader in the Noroshimachi district of Suzu, at the tip of the Noto Peninsula, is deeply worried about the trend.