Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rural Japan graying and shrinking, in parallel to the United States

This article on the cover of today's business section of the New York Times reports on the "Wal-Martization" of Japan -- but without the Wal-Mart. In short, what we call big box stores ("national chains") are helping the urban middle class in Japan, but closing down "rural" downtowns, severly damaging local economies. Just as rural youth in this country migrate to cities for better opportunities, so those in Japan move to Tokyo. Just one consequence is the graying of rural Japan, again a demographic trend that parallels the United States. This is just one of several stories that the New York Times has run in recent months on the woes of rural Japan. Here's one on obstetrics services there, and here's one from last winter on cuts to public services.

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