The pachinko parlor is abandoned and there isn't much Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda can do about it.

The gambling hall near the rail station in Naie, a town of roughly 5,000 on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, is now a rusted hulk. This community, like many in provincial Japan, has been ravaged by the country's shrinking and aging population. These challenges spill into all aspects of commercial and social life in the countryside, yet they can seem distant to the mobile-phone tapping professionals in the crowded streets of Tokyo and Osaka.

It's towns like Naie that illustrate the scope of what Japan's monetary policymakers need to accomplish, and offer a cautionary tale for global central banks from China to Europe facing similar demographic struggles. Last week, the European Central Bank doubled down on negative rates and the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to cut rates again this month. Many observers predict the BOJ will do more to try and spur the economy. Recent interviews with businesses, consumers and officials in Hokkaido, however, suggest the central bank is ill-equipped to deal with the problems at the heart of the Japanese economy.