'Vanishing village' looks to LDP for survival

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Ami Miyazaki

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"Rural Japan is no Tokyo. Those people may say something ideal in Tokyo, something like 'Let's change Japan'. But here, it won't strike home," 

Have Abe's policies really benefited your small village that much? Why is it shrinking and vanishing then? Take off the blinders

29 ( +32 / -3 )

Huge crowd. Great energy. She really gets it.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The weak have to lean on the strong. (Yoraba Taiju no Kage)

7 ( +8 / -1 )

the forefront of Japan's battle against an aging and shrinking population.

If what the Japanese government is doing (and has been doing) in this case is "a battle",

I have yet to see a shot fired in any direction.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Where are the 1632 people now?

Most probably in Tokyo or other big cities.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

old beliefs old beliefs in LDP

Not surprising from a village that has provided Prime Ministers, ties with the central government are strong

LDP might support that villagers but the LDP has created a huge ans still worsening debt. Japan would be company it would be bankrupted

Anyway, elderlies vote and most of them for the LDP, that's why it is winning

And they prefer the stability than trying any change

16 ( +16 / -0 )

There's no point pumping money and concrete into a declining village like this, which is 90% mountains. Let nature take its course, and the people spend their final years in peace and quiet, surrounded by nature, not concrete.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

"Until this day, we have not found a substitute (industry)," Nanmoku Mayor Saijo Hasegawa told Reuters.

So you have been supporting the LDP since forever and have seen your community go down the drain, and you have been holding your breaths expecting that the LDP is going to change things for the better for you?

Something just ain't right with this picture.

29 ( +29 / -0 )

"Yoraba Taiju no Kage" is always a rotten ol' right-wing sort that habitually falls on the weak like a ton of bricks. Remember the folks who brought you "Pearl Harbor"? The mustachioed clown who built the Autobahns and "solved" unemployment with a free funeral for millions? And watch out for Trump's big, fat tree - Timberrrrrr! Sheeple should be careful what they wish for 'cos wolves in sheep"s clothing are everywhere ready to offer their love and protection.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

old ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is what the country's most elderly village needs for survival.

Huh? Surviving are we?

Its population has halved over the past 20 years to 1,963, and with a median age of 70.6, Nanmoku is now Japan's oldest municipality.

So not surviving then, yeah?

Without immigration, rural Japan is basically over. In 30-40 years China won't need to fire a shot, will come knocking, and finding no one there, walk right in.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

'Vanishing village' looks to LDP for survival

They won't survive. Simple as that

17 ( +18 / -1 )

They won't survive. Simple as that

Looks Ghostly already.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Sadly, this village and hundreds like it will be gone in just a few short years. This is an excellent article about what to expect in the next 100 years or so; it makes for grim reading.


12 ( +12 / -0 )

As many have noted, one of the prime reasons for the plight of people as told, is the selfish ineptness of the LDP over decades.

Hell bent on pursuing their own agendas, the LDP - now headed by Abe - have literally fiddled while Japan has burned.

The aging of society and it's myriad of associated problems has been known / talked about for so many years, with a little patronizing action at the most.

And the willingness of an electorate to blindly follow them adds to the quagmire. Everyones too scared, that the positives that change may well bring, could affect them negatively in the short term, so selfishly or ignorantly they keep the scoundrels in.

Sad more than shocking.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

These people just vote for the son (or daughter in the case of Obuchi) of the last MP. They don't think at all about policies. They don't ask how the son's thoughts and policies differ from his father because they don't care. The only thing that matters is he is the son of the last guy. It's no wonder that their village is in decline when they are unable to think for themselves.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Now wait a minute. All the gloom and doom here is discouraging. But if people like Yohka Tanaka take to this organic farming, hey, there’s hope!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

tohoku people still suffering from fukushima should be given free houses in these villages.

people over 65 shouldn't be allowed to vote unless they have a doctors note proving they don't suffer from dementia.

inaka people should have access to more than one tv channel, other the LDP controlled NHK
3 ( +5 / -2 )

As the main voice in this article is that of a grandfather, I realise more and more that this is Japan's problem.

The old in Japan rule!

I was at a midsize company yesterday and spoke to the president (81) and his wife (76); the eldest son in the background, said little.

At 81, why wasn't he off on a cruise or fishing?

No, still at work!

Out at an izakaya, the next table was a group of eight pensioners smoking and drinking.The restaurant was bereft of young people;salaries from part time work don't lend to outside dining.

Japan needs enforced retirement. It is the only way, that the young will be able to receive a decent salary and to be able to enjoy the lives that their fathers and grandfathers did.....

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I'm with Goodlucktoyou on numbers 1 and 3, but not on 2. I think if they have access to No. 3 they might change their mind in terms of who to vote for, though with the representation in Inaka being nil they would be forced to vote for LDP or no one at all, a big problem for most of the country already.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"For back country dwellers, strong ties with the central government come in handy when we need to ask for help in such times as a natural disaster. This village has no option but to support them,"

The govt, regardless of the party in power, is bound by law to end help in natural and other disasters. Individual ministers and agency directors can be arrested for criminal negligence.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They need enforced retirement not just on office workers, but politicians as well. Would you let your 70+year old Grandparents run your day to day affairs ? So why would you want them running your country? People generally get more stubborn with age and less will to change or quick to adapt to new ideas.

Imai Chikara is a prime example of this. Kaneta the 46 year old candy man needs to realise these LDP chicken hawks can't protect him either. Maybe these places need to disappear/die off so young people like Tanaka Yohka can put some good use to that land.

0 ( +4 / -4 )


you don't fix ageism by imposing it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Politics will not be able to change the demographic destiny of Japan. Japan’s population will continue it’s dramatic decline and the people will cope with the consequences as best they can.

Japan will not import the huge number of young foreigner migrants necessary to make an impact on them aging population because they understand that it would destroy their very old culture as it currently exists. It’s a conscious and rational choice. It’s also a gamble. As their population declines their economic, political and military clout will also decline making them a tempting target for the Chinese.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

People are obviously right to criticise Abe and the LDP, but just don't fall into the trap of thinking that Japanese politics has anything significantly better to offer. If you do, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Rural Japan is no Tokyo. Those people may say something ideal in Tokyo, something like 'Let's change Japan'. But here, it won't strike home," Imai said.

It is common on Japan Today for people to criticise Japanese companies and their old ways, but the ones that still survive have done so through changing via kaizen, restructuring, and making difficult decisions like shifting production overseas. By comparison, the Japanese countryside has done very little to change with the times.

With independent revenue sources covering less than 20 percent of the village's budget, Hasegawa sees a continuity in government support for Nanmoku as essential, and is wary of a change in government.

This figure might be slightly misleading because some taxes, like consumption tax, are collected nationally and then redistributed back. Such redistribution is not "help" or a "subsidy". However, Nanmoku will still be in receipt of large amounts of taxpayer money on a per capita basis, something that should not be forgotten when people in the countryside say they can't or won't change. I bet most people in the city would love their kids to go to a school with 24 students in a class, never mind one with the luxury of 24 students in six grades.

The article Alfie links to is very good, so give it a read.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Some modern advice : LDP 's motto should turn to "make love not war".

Love is long gone in discussions of elderly people. Right after births in general, speaking by experience.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't know how good the internet is in these villages, but is it not possible for some companies in Tokyo or other major cities relocate offices to these small villages, this way some people might just move to them, thus bringing new blood to them, more people will bring money into the economy, if its just an office that pushers paper around, why pay high taxes/rates from a major city, they would be more cheaper in the country side, some people might jump at this suggestion you would not have the major commute each morning, and the stress that goes with that. fresh air, iam sure there will be a down side to this.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Alfie NoakesToday  08:37 am JST

Many thanks very interesting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I know Japan is keen on propping up failing business models, but trying to maintain this village is throwing good money after bad.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Oh! Don't get me started on how this is just a catchphrase that has no true meaning in Japan!

An employer of mine once fired me (first time in my life) because I had to suddenly go to be with a close family member on his deathbed in his final days - even though I was suggesting a staffing pattern that would have covered all bases in the interim. When I asked that employer what he thought about 'kaizen', he had no clue what I was talking about. Pfft!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It is evident that this village will disappear in 10 years and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Shrinking population is not a problem at all, automation will replace the jobs easily. And we already have too many climate change issues that will cause food and water shortages in the nearest decades, so the population decline would be very beneficial for Earth.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In 1947 52.4% of the Japanese were farmers and by 1985 the number was down to 9%. The migration of country folk to cities has been an accelerating world-wide trend since the end of WW2. Japan will soon be no country for farmers as capitalism's natural selection process is inexorable. The silver lining is that the LDP won't be able to use the country population to gerrymander the system for much longer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

if TPP materialises, that 9% will be 2%. i would love to be a farmer, but I'm not good at it. it should taught in schools.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think Abe and the LDP have been doing a good job balancing the old and the young in this country, aside from the givens of a party grown bureaucratic in large part because the opposition is so (truly) inept. In a democracy the bulk of the policies benefit the majority, and the biggest majority today is the old folks. But who is there to thwart the voting power of the young when Abe tried to give votes to the 18-year-olds?

But the young are not disendowed. When the older generations die off, they have to pass on the real wealth (as well as the huge national debts in the form of paper wealth) to the young. It is a common adage that says Japan's huge debt is owed to its own citizens. That is correct, but the more exact saying is it is mainly owed to the older people, who had the money to lend to the gov't (in the form of money buying up the gov't bonds, and money paid in the form of a deflated currency since the 90s. But all this real and paper wealth and debt will go to a much smaller cohort of younger people. The bonds (paper wealth) and debt will largely cancel out, and they will be left with a chunk of real wealth, which is quite significant. The challenge is whether the younger generations can stand up to it. The elders - mostly the between-wars and post-war generations, went through their hardships and built a prosperous Japan. Now we will see how well the younger ones will perform.

Looking back over the last 70 years, if it was mostly the LDP's 70 years, the track record is not bad at all, against world standard.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The choice in this 30% attendance, yearly challenge, is: try something new or just carry on. 

As money is the holy grail hereabouts its ‚we have done alright so far why change?‘

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Though I am an Outsider, I totally agree with GuGene...Encourage People like Yohoka Tanaka....After having educated in America.....then to come back Home and settle in a Village like Nanmoku....is PURE-DEVOTION.....Please keep up the good work Tanaka-san. I was once in Awaji (2000) and still miss it a lot.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rural conservatives have power over LDP

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What if they make the town historical? That might pump some much needed money into its economy, amd they'd be able to fix things up, while potentially attracting more people to live there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I rode there on a bicycle traveling from Chichibu to Saku. The area is stunningly beautiful, overflowing with mountain forest greenery and the sounds of nature. It's popular with people looking to get away, so tourism is an important part of it's economy. Here Nanmoku's home page: http://www.nanmoku.ne.jp/. Nanmokumura Natural Park Campiong Ground (bungalows, tent spots):http://ns-park.nanmokushoko.com

Here's another thing - Nanmoku only 40 minutes from Takasaki (using the expressway for half the distance). So one can guess that some (most?) of the younger tourism and forestry workers making a livelihood in Nanmoku actually live in nearby larger towns and cities. Tomioka on a train line is only 20 minutes. 20-40 minutes is not a bad commute, considering how long some people in Tokyo commute (everybody knows somebody commuting 2 hours each way).

Many kudos to Yohka Tanaka for realizing the best commute is no commute, and wishing for his success.

Here's the route I took by bicycle from Chichibu to Saku (on the way to Yatsugatake) passing through Nanmoku town: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26273659. Two points worth mentioning:

(1) New 299 periodically diverges from the old road, and where possible it is best to go the slow route and take the old road if you want to see the old villages full of octogenarians dressed in traditional clothing hauling on their backs wicker baskets as big as themselves full of farm products or wild mountain vegetables - or maybe just tending to their wonderfully kept gardens in front of their old rustic wooden homes.

(2) After turning north on 45 toward Nanmoku, don't go through the (very long) tunnel. Veer right off on 45, there should be signs for Shio-no-zawa head up a narrow road. The road is very winding but you will ocassionally see signs saying it is the Nishi-Joshu Yamabiko highway. If you don't take a wrong turn, you'll meet up with 45 again on the other side of the tunnel.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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