Population trends of cities in rural regions of Japan are surveyed. First, population change rates during the period 2005–2010 of 401 cities in “Hokkaido and Tohoku,” “Hokuriku and Koshin-etsu,” “Chugoku and Shikoku,” and “Kyushu and Okinawa” regions are calculated. Few cities gained population, for example, Sapporo, Sendai, Fukuoka, and the satellite cities. On the other hand, cities that lost more than 5% of their populations are distributed in peripheral regions such as Sanriku Coast of Iwate and peninsulas and islands of west and south Kyushu. Generally, a positive relationship between population size of cities and those change rates is observed. Next, using long-term statistics, periods when cities in rural regions recorded peak populations are specified. The peaks tended to concentrate in two periods, that is, 1947–1955 and 2005–2010. Finally, cohort change rates are shown in 30 cities where prefectural government offices are located. Major cities such as Sapporo, Sendai, and Fukuoka have maintained stable inflows of young people since 1985. However, about one third of the prefectural capitals lost youngsters and received no populations of other age groups in recent years. From the viewpoint of population changes, almost all cities in rural regions in Japan are in a challenging situation. The “foothold” or “hub cities” in rural regions became exceptions in Japan.
Population changes of old municipalities in the Tohoku region and the Chugoku region around the period of the “Heisei municipal mergers” are examined by decomposing population change into natural increase and social increase. Population changes during the period 1980–2010 are analyzed in two areas affected, one of which retained administrative and public offices (“Central Area”) and the other of which did not (“Periphery Area”). The results of the analysis are summarized as follows. The main demographical factor in the widening gap of the population increase rates of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” from the 1980s was the widening gap in natural increase rates, as was the case throughout Japan. On the other hand, the impacts of social increase rate changes were generally limited, and differences in the social increase rates of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” in the 2000s were almost the same as, or smaller than, those in the 1980s. Whereas the social increase rates of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” declined in the Tohoku region, there was no such tendency in the Chugoku region. Because the social increase rates of non-merged municipalities were almost the same as those of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” in both regions, the changes in the social increase rates of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” after the 2000s in both regions are presumed to be a phenomenon commonly observed in both regions. When social increase rate is classified by the ratio of population of the “Periphery Area” to that of the “Central Area,” the social increase rates of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” declined, regardless of the ratio in the Tohoku region, but there is no such clear tendency in the Chugoku region. However, it is observed in both regions that social increase rates largely declined in both the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area,” which had similar populations each other. This suggests the possibility that migration from municipalities with small populations to those with large populations increased after the 2000s. When the social increase rate of the “Periphery Area” is classified by distance between new public offices and old public offices, there is a clear negative relationship between social increase rate and distance in the Tohoku region, but the negative relationship is very weak in the Chugoku region. On the other hand, there is a clear negative relationship between natural increase rate and distance in both regions, suggesting that the impact of the natural decrease became stronger in areas far from the new public office. Overall, the changes in the social increase rates of the “Central Area” and the “Periphery Area” in both regions after the 2000s reflect the migration tendency of the whole region, and the influence of the “Heisei municipal mergers” on migration is estimated to be limited compared to the effects on the entire region.
This paper presents demographic analysis of municipality-level migration of foreign residents in Japan. Using inter-municipal migration data derived from the Basic Resident Registration System, which covers foreign residents from 2013, in- and out-migration rates of foreign residents are compared to those of Japanese residents for each municipality. Preliminary analysis using the crude indicators shows higher rates of both in- and out- migration for foreign residents than Japanese residents in 94 per cent of the municipalities across the country. To adjust for age-sex composition, the indirect standardization method is applied with age-sex specific in- and out-migration rates of Japanese residents as the standard migration rates for each municipality. Comparison of the crude and standardized indicators suggests that, on average, differences in age-sex composition between foreign and Japanese residents account for over 40 per cent of differences in crude rates between the two groups for in- and out- migration in each municipality. At the same time, the results of analysis with the standardized migration ratios confirm that, even after controlling for age-sex composition, foreign residents are more mobile than Japanese residents in terms of municipality-level migration rates. Higher mobility of foreign residents is observed particularly in the three major metropolitan areas (Kanto, Chukyo, and Kinki), where over 90 per cent of the municipalities are characterized by both higher in- and out-migration rates for foreign residents than Japanese residents. Distinctive patterns with a combination of higher in-migration and lower out-migration rates for foreign residents are observed at some of the small and rural municipalities located in non-metropolitan areas, particularly in western regions such as Shikoku and Kyushu. Relatively high in-migration rates for foreign residents in these municipalities, however, can be attributed mainly to inflows of foreign trainees under the Technical Intern Training Program, which is not aimed at facilitating the long-term settlement of foreign trainees. From a long-term and sustainability point of view, thus, the implications of these observations challenge the demographic role of foreign residents in mitigating depopulation and population ageing in these rural areas.
Outflow patterns of the population of young people in the Shonai region, Yamagata prefecture are studied. Based on a questionnaire survey, the percentage of parents who want their children to settle in their hometown (Shonai region) is examined. From the 1970s, there was an increase in the ratio of the population aged 20–24 to those aged 0–4 by birth cohort in the Shonai region. However, this ratio began to decline in the mid-1990s. This is attributed to an increase in the rate of entrants to universities outside the region and in the number of students who secured jobs outside the prefecture immediately upon graduating from high school. Although return migration increased the population of those aged 20–24 and 25–29 marginally, the rise was not sustained and the ratios have begun to decline in recent years. In addition, a university established in the Shonai region in 2001 has not been successful in mitigating the decline in the number of people staying. The authors carried out a questionnaire survey of parents of high school third graders, asking them about their expectations for their children's life choices after completing high school. According to the survey, the percentage of parents who wanted their children to settle in their hometown was 66.2%. The results of significance tests show that percentages varied depending on the socioeconomic status of the parents and on their level of satisfaction with life in the region. Most mothers who were university graduates did not expect their children to remain in the hometown. The same was observed for mothers who had experienced life outside the region. Because the percentage of students pursuing higher education has been on the rise in recent years, the number of mothers who are university graduates will also increase, as will the number of mothers who have experienced life outside the region. These factors may cause a further decline in the number of parents who hope that their children remain in the hometown.
Peripheral regions in Japan have suffered the impacts of out-migration to metropolitan areas since the high-growth period. Today, faced with depopulation, it is more important than ever to have a national policy that promotes reverse migration from metropolitan areas, especially Tokyo, to peripheral regions. At the end of 2014, the Government of Japan introduced the policy “Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy” (in Japanese Chiho-Sosei) and published a national strategy. Local municipalities have also started planning their own strategies to promote in-migration. New trends of in-migration and settlement are emerging in Kyushu. For example, young ICT engineers and designers seeking a better work-life balance are relocating from Tokyo to Kyushu; municipalities are attracting active elderly people with Continuing Care Retirement Communities; and, firms are locating headquarters' functions and back-office operations in large cities in Kyushu. These trends, which help create jobs and slow population decline in Kyushu, are having too small an impact on the centralized urban system of Japan; in other words, they are not reducing “Overconcentration in Tokyo.” Responding to this disparity, and to create significant flows of people and jobs, it is necessary to restructure the regional governance system. However, until now, decentralization has shown little progress.
Recently, governments of some cities have adopted urban policies, based on a compact city concept to facilitate accessibility, mainly for mobility-impaired people among Japan's ageing society. The government of Aomori city has planned a popular compact city model, or a centralized urban physical structure, by controlling the urbanized area of the Mid-city zone (population-incentive zone) in the city master plan established in 1999. The effects of measures for providing accessibility to the central railway station as a representative facility of the city center are analyzed, and the implications for urban policy based on a centralized compact city design in Aomori city are investigated. Accessibility, as represented by time-distance to the central station, is measured based on a road network analysis and timetables of train and bus services. As a result, it is observed at a level where most of the population can reach the facility. The simulations are based on the following measures: 1) supporting migration inside of the Mid-city from the Outer-city forming the suburbs; and 2) improving the frequency of bus transportation in the Toyama housing district, a case-study area in the suburbs. The major findings are as follows. 1) Accessibility to the central station by train is improved with migration and the effects are greater for elderly people. It seems to be useful to strengthen these effects if migration is only into the Inner-city. Although variations in migration measures are found under several conditions, accessibility is finally improved to almost the same level. Therefore, it is important to continue migration support measures, even if the pace is slow. 2) Accessibility to the central station by bus from the Toyama housing district is improved substantially under a situation where the frequency of bus services is increased until five-fold. The effect is also improved for elderly people. Some suburban cores such as large housing districts should be set or maintained at least the short-term aims of urban policy, because the population is already distributed in the suburbs and the level of functions of daily life should be maintained there. Lastly, it is important that the city master plan refers to the phasing of centralization from the suburbs, especially, about methods and times. If it is considered that the suburban cores continue independently in the process of compact city policy, the government of the city should include the cores in the urban structure and the city master plan should be revised.
In post-war Japan, many cityscapes have changed significantly with the development of high-speed transportation networks. Focusing on the process by which the normative way the city's future and its realization is imagined―that is, how the paradigm of city planning is accepted by the entities involved―the dynamics of how urban spaces resulting from this social processare reflected in space is investigated. The target area of this study, around JR Sakudaira Station, started campaigning for a bullet train in the 1970s. However, a centralist paradigm took hold due to developmental politics in the economic sector and the model of a modern city in the technological sector, and planning was relegated to the central government leadership. On the other hand, changes in the industrial structure and an aging farming population strengthened the development paradigm to promote a shift toward urban land use. The agricultural cooperative representing the interests of farmers in land use promoted land readjustment projects around Sakudaira Station. This project initially progressed through a government-led, design-centric approach. However, due to a lack of concrete planning ideas to counteract market principles, there was a push to change to a liberal paradigm that emphasizes the free market. Thus, the region's leading commercial cluster was formed with the focus on large-scale stores, contrary to the original plan.
Based on a case study in Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture, the structure of a comprehensive community care system for small provincial cities is investigated. Initiatives using community networks of each comprehensive support center, which take account of the diverse characteristics of individual communities, are compared. To establish a comprehensive community care system tailored to the diverse conditions of its local communities, Naruto City established daily living zones and several comprehensive community support centers offering better care than that available in other similarly sized provincial cities in Japan. Within each community, center operations were outsourced to contractors that had provided community support before the long-term care insurance system was introduced. Each center used community networks tailored to local characteristics and sought to resolve problems within the community, thereby building a comprehensive community care system for each zone. The volume of work undertaken has increased since the comprehensive community support centers were established in 2006, and the city hall cannot address problems at each center through policy measures. So, a centralized comprehensive community support center was established in September 2015. As a result, Naruto City seeks to develop and adjust its policy on two scales: (1) micro-policies that account for the diverse characteristics of each community and (2) a macro-policy that addresses problems comprehensively at the city-wide level. Consequently, Naruto City is now in the process of transitioning to a comprehensive community care system based on a new system of governance. Nevertheless, the system faces problems due to the low level of recognition of the comprehensive community support center by the public and the weakening of community organizations responsible for building community networks. Consequently, investment is needed to build strong community organizations in which people of all ages can participate.
The purposes of this study are to map residential areas of elderly people at high risk of undernutrition (food desert areas), and to assess mobile sales wagons as a form of support for disadvantaged shoppers. The research methods are as follows: (1) prepare a map that shows high-density areas of elderly people who suffer from poor nutrition; (2) compare the locations of undernourished elderly people in relation to stations where mobile sales wagons stop; and, (3) assess the efficiency of mobile sales wagon support by comparing these locations, and suggest improvements. The findings of this research are as follows. (1) There are long distances between the locations of poor food access areas and high-density areas of undernourished elderly people. Local communities of people with limited access to shopping facilities are mainly located in suburban agricultural areas, whereas residential areas of undernourished elderly people are located in suburban agricultural areas and city centers. (2) Wagon stations are mainly located in residential areas of relatively poor food access areas; there are no stations in city centers. (3) The customer ratio of sales wagons tends to be higher in areas where many low-functioning independent elderly people live, and in areas where many economically poor seniors and those isolated from family members dwell.
Minamata city is well known as the company town of Chisso Corporation, as the site of Minamata disease and, in recent times, as a city with environmentally friendly policies. The postwar experiences of Minamata city are often compared to a microcosm of Japanese modernization. A few decades earlier, the city faced and tackled several problems that most non-metropolitan cities currently face, such as an aging population and economic decline. There are meaningful lessons and suggestions we can adopt from Minamata city for sustainable development policies suited to non-metropolitan cities. This paper focuses on the economic history of Minamata (which includes not only Chisso but also other manufacturing companies and industries) and the dynamic relations between its local economy and politics. In Minamata, social tensions, such as those between the perpetrators and the victims of Minamata disease and between Chisso's labor and management, gradually disappeared due to reconciliation efforts and generational change. Minamata city office changed its vision of future development from being an industrial city to an environmentally friendly one, bearing in mind not only the experiences of Minamata disease victims but also the city's varied environmental resources. The residents of Minamata offered their support for these policies in recent mayor elections. Nevertheless, new problems began to emerge in the city. Jobs for the young had been limited for a long time, especially for men and those who were highly educated. One of the reasons for this is that Chisso prioritized retaining employees and restricted new hiring. Besides, the economic dominance of Chisso prevented local leaders and enterprises from growing. As a result, although Minamata's town planning, with its emphasis on environmentally friendly policies, received much attention and support, those policies could not be effectively implemented due to a lack of local human and institutional resources. Recently, however, young residents have begun to construct new social networks. It is worth noting that they share environmentally friendly visions. We can regard these kinds of movement as the results of continued efforts by Minamata city office and citizens. The economic and social dynamics of Minamata and the problems mentioned here are likely to be common to many non-metropolitan cities. Those cities must not be nearsighted about depopulation problems, but should investigate and try to maintain the conditions needed for long-term social and economic sustainability.
Many Japanese non-metropolitan cities face accelerating depopulation. Some are expected to disappear in the near future. The national government attempts to develop regional core cities in a way that is likened to “dams for preventing population outflows.” Prefectural government cities (PGCs/Kencho Shozaitoshi) are this policy's main focus. Through a case study on Matsue, this paper examines whether PGCs, especially those with superiorities only in public administration and consumption, have the ability to take on such roles. In the postwar era, PGCs continued to grow due to the sustained concentration and expansion of management functions in public administration. National policies such as amalgamation of basic industries such as banking, broadcasting, and newspapers, as well as establishment of national universities on a prefectural basis, also contributed to this growth because most of their main offices and facilities were located in PGCs. These led to population increases and induced retail and service sector developments. Nevertheless, PGCs are now at a crossroads. Due to the financial crisis, sweeping public administration reforms led to a sharp decrease in their workers. Their populations are aging, and thus are decreasing. This leads to more challenging management environments for regional (prefectural) business enterprises such as prefecturally amalgamated banks. On the other hand, this population change brings rapid growth in the medical, health care, and welfare (M, H, and W) industry. The locations of core facilities in this sector are also concentrated on PGCs. Although M, H, and W is now one of the key industries in PGCs, its economic structure will not be sustainable in the long term if PGCs cannot attract aged persons from other areas. As a settled promotional policy, Matsue appealed for its superiority of livability, ranked highest by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). However, Matsue's livability concept lacks consideration of elements such as job opportunities or work life. Furthermore, its settled promotional policies seem to be separated from industrial policies. For example, Matsue seeks to develop knowledge-intensive information technology industries, but its settled promotional policies do not take the characteristics of those workers and their preferences for living environment into consideration. If Matsue wishes to attract inhabitants based on environmental superiority, it must interpret livability concepts more comprehensively and make more strategic environmental improvements. Such efforts are likely to be common tasks of Matsue-type PCGs.