national

Japan's rural elderly behind push to reverse gas station closures

22 Comments
By Osamu Tsukimori

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© t Thomson Reuters 2017.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
Login to comment

Change the laws on Jerry cans.

Problem solved.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan's rural elderly reverse gas station closures

Misleading title to say the least. There is nothing outside of the very last paragraph that suggests the "rural elderly" are doing anything to reverse the problem.

This is just one of the many problems that these rural areas face as no one wants to live in the middle of no where with nothing around for them to do! And now it seems with no gas to get anywhere else if they wanted to!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yubaru is right. This is not the elderly, but local governments doing this, and on the tax payers dime, no less. Now, I guess you could say the gas stations are to serve the elderly, but they are not buying them up and reopening them. Maybe it is because of space or whatever, but most gas stations in North America always have some kind of shop or restaurant attached to them, and I could never understand why Japan didn't do the same. Every time you'd stop to get gas, someone would run in to buy something, or get coffee, or something.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

No customers no profit, pretty simple.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Mark is on to it. When I visited Australia, half the customers only bought bread, milk and a newspaper.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I can just imagine who's pushing the local governments to do this while they fob it off on the elderly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yasushi Kimura, said one solution is to combine fuelling services with stores selling other household goods.

One of the things that always surprised me about Japanese gas stands... most of them sell only gas, and they usually aren't close to convenience stores.

In rural America (birthplace of 7/11), this same type of remote condition exists, but gas stations are also usually a small grocery store, hardware store, and often have an attached restaurant. Many 7/11's in America also sell gas. It's a no brainer, stop and get some things off your shopping list while you get gas.

A great solution could be to implement SS (self service) stations where an attendant inside operates a Japanese conbini type shop. Well you're at it, attach one of those rice cleaner stations and a laundromat!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The industry ministry says local communities in at least a dozen other villages have taken over abandoned fuel stations, closed due to falling sales, a lack of people to run them, and the cost of replacing ageing underground fuel tanks.

This article skims across the prime reason, and the reason you'll also see closed gas stations, also in larger cities.

Many of these gas stations have been build one on top of the other retaining the original tanks. Owners are required refurbish the underground tanks for fuel after 40 years, an uneconomic option. The grace period is 2 years after enforcement, which was in February 2013. Any, leakage caused by corrosion of the tank will cause soil contamination and become the responsibility of the owner. Which will incur huge penalties and clean up consequences. So closing up shop is the best option.

Its a tip of the ice burg thang.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In Shimanto City, with a population of around 35,000 in the west of the country, local residents chipped in to help buy the area's only gas stand, which now operates as part of a store also offering home-delivery for goods, said Takehiko Okamura, a store clerk.

Huh? Am I reading this correctly? A city of 35,00 needed the citizens to chi it buy a gas stand? Like there's not a single normal gas station in the town other than the citizen purchased one?

It would seem to me that a town of 35,000 could easily support a number of gas stations.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Elderly people in the countryside will rarely travel far so EV cars would be the way forward - with government support? VERY unlikely but all the same would help support the sustainabilitiy of rural areas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The issue is becoming so acute that the central government is budgeting several tens of millions of dollars a year to support the refurbishment of rural gasoline stands.

If you can get some government funds this may be a good retirement business opportunity!?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Mark is on to it. When I visited Australia, half the customers only bought bread, milk and a newspaper.

Gas stations in Australia makes bigger profit selling groceries and drinks than selling gas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

NipporiNick,

"Huh? Am I reading this correctly? A city of 35,00 needed the citizens to chi it buy a gas stand? "

I think you read it right but they wrote it wrong. I believe the gasoline stand in Shimanto City the article refers to is the one in Nishitosa. That's a rural village that was merged into the city in 2005. It was the only place to get gas in that village. There are other places in the city as a whole. A number of villagers banded together to form a company to run the gas stand and store more than ten years ago.

And I agree with nedotjp. I've seen features on TV about the problem of areas losing their gasoline stands that indicated the necessity by law to spend a fortune to replace the underground tanks with modern ones was just not economically feasible for (often) elderly owners in declining areas

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my area of western Tokyo most Gasoline stations have shutdown/became a combini or similar.

Most of those stations don't have the space to offer additional services/franchises.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

stands that indicated the necessity by law to spend a fortune to replace the underground tanks with modern ones was just not economically feasible for (often) elderly owners in declining areas all the more reason to promote electric vehicles in these areas, no need for smelly gas stands, can charge at home. and installing electric charging stations is far cheaper than build new gas stations. Just of note , I watched a youtube vlog about a Tesla Taxi driver in Finland, hes clocked over 400,000km in his taxi and has only seen about a 7% degradation in his battery packs. Most new EV now offer 8yr warranty on their batteries even though theyve have proven that they can last much longer than the life of an average vehicle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"just not economically feasible for (often) elderly owners in declining areas"

I meant to say --especially-- for owners in declining rural areas but often also in urban areas too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gas stations would still be open if the economic arguments were there. Mass-market electric cars will be here within a matter of a few years. Instead of using the tax budget to renovate old facilities, use part of the funds to provide EV charging facilities. Any restaurant with a car park, supermarkets, pachinko parlours could all probably be persuaded (via city tax rebates). Use the other part of the tax funds to offer incentives to local residents as grants toward electric vehicles. Future proof, environmentally progressive, increases the infrastructure of EV charging points, local benefits for local people.

No chance, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just a thought, and it's off topic slightly...

Who on earth would build gas stations now in 2017? In 50 years there will be almost no such thing as a gas station, and already by 2030 most car retailers will only have non gas vehicles in their line up.

To go throughout rural Japan which is just full of dying townships and old people and spend millions building gas stations is nuts. They need to take care of the people now by helping them out for the next 10 years or so then move on.

Maybe they should subsidize a couple EV vehicles for the towns or something, or the town should band together and organize.

The bottom line too is that their is obviously no money in getting gas to these people...cause if there were, you can bet we would be reading about "The elderly complain of the noise from the new-style store/restaurant/gas station in their peaceful mountain town".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most people here seem to be thinking only about cars, but I believe the rural gasoline stands also supply fuel for farming equipment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Self-service petrol stations are cheaper than the old type. Not so long ago, perhaps 10-15 years ago, self-service petrol stations were illegal. When they became legal and introduced more competitive pricing, many old-style petrol station could not compete and lost sales. Many chose simple to close rather than rebuild to self-service spec.

On top of that there are fewer companies selling petrol as a result of mergers. Three or four petrol stations within about 100m of each other used to be a common sight. Of course such consolidation led to many closures.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And I agree with nedotjp. I've seen features on TV about the problem of areas losing their gasoline stands that indicated the necessity by law to spend a fortune to replace the underground tanks with modern ones was just not economically feasible for (often) elderly owners in declining areas.

This would seem to be the most likely cause. I saw the same thing happen in the U.S.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Funnily enough in my home country gas stations are leaving large cities and downtown areas. Why? Price of land is too expensive, so they close down the gas station, rehabilitate the land and sell it to developer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites