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Shrinking Sado: Education, Employment and the Decline of Japan's Rural Regions

Matanle, Peter (2008) Shrinking Sado: Education, Employment and the Decline of Japan's Rural Regions. In: Oswalt, Philipp, (ed.) Shrinking cities – Complete works 3 Japan. Project Office Philipp Oswalt , Berlin , pp. 42-53.

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Abstract

In 2005 Japan’s population began to shrink and, according to the government’s own research institute, is scheduled to drop by approximately 30 per cent within the next 50 years. Although this fall is considered to be a rather recent phenomenon, what is less well known is the fact that Japan’s rural regions have been steadily declining, perhaps even collapsing, since as far back as 1950. This population shrinkage, and the inevitable decline in socio-economic vitality that accompanies it, has been taking place as a result of an excessive concentration of economic opportunity and political power in Japan’s urban centres. Japan’s cities have grown in the post-war period, in part, at the expense of a long-term decline of the countryside. This article uses Sado Island as a case study in rural decline and argues that a chronic and structurated out-migration of younger people from the island to urban areas in search of education and employment opportunities has been a major cause of this decline. To the extent that what has already taken place in Japan’s rural areas may be indicative of the shape of things to come for the country’s provincial towns and cities, as the population fall begins to bite more deeply, the article then goes on to systematise these processes within the larger context of the acceleration and intensification of the processes underpinning Japanese capitalism. The article will propose that, in addition to its ongoing exhaustion of nature, Japanese capital is exhausting the country’s labour power and, consequently, its population. Part of the solution to the exhaustion of labour and nature may be for us to think beyond modernity into a post-capitalist order. Thus, rather than being seen as a dying relic of the country’s past, this article will suggest that the society of Sado Island may assist us in imagining and planning a new direction for Japan.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: This paper is a post-review corrected version, and is the final version prior to publisher proofing. Readers are advised to refer to the published paper for accurate citation and referencing. If you are unable to access the published version, then please contact the author at: p.matanle@sheffield.ac.uk.
Keywords: demography; depopulation; economic decline; environmental sustainability
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of East Asian Studies (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Peter Matanle
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2012 11:45
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 11:39
Published Version: http://www.schrumpfendestaedte.de/digital.0.html?&...
Status: Published
Publisher: Project Office Philipp Oswalt
Refereed: No
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43583

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