Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nothing lasts forever

“Close to 85% of municipalities in Japan are shrinking, compared to fewer than than 5% of local authorities in England and Wales. Demography is front-page news in Japan: alarmism reached feverish levels this spring with the publication of a report asserting that more than half of Japan’s municipalities are “at risk of extinction” by 2040, as their numbers of reproductive-age women halve versus 2010 – or in Yubari’s case, fall by 85% to just 100 such women in 2040.


This makes Yubari fascinating as the demographic canary in the Japanese, erm, coal mine. When celebrated doctor Tomohiko Murakami, who led the post-bankruptcy downsizing of Yubari’s only hospital into a clinic (before he was disgraced in a bizarre love triangle-cum-attempted murder incident), describes contemporary Yubari as a “microcosm of Japan in 2050”, he exaggerates only mildly: by around 2060, the over-65s are projected to account for four out of every 10 Japanese – a ratio Yubari reached about a decade ago.”


Yubari, Japan: a city learns how to die


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