The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network
Measures to stop the decline of Japan’s population and redress excessive concentrations of population and industry in the Tokyo metropolitan area are significant issues related to the basis of the nation’s existence.
Each of Japan’s political parties must face this hard reality and compete in their efforts to propose specific measures. Japan’s total population began declining after reaching its peak in 2008. If the birthrate remains at the current level, the nation’s population is estimated to drop to 87 million in 2060 from the current 127 million. The situation is grave particularly in provincial regions, where human resources are flowing to urban areas, in addition to the declining birthrate. If nothing is done to stop the population decline, many municipalities will vanish in the future. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration this summer promoted as its signature policy the vitalization of local areas aimed at dealing with shrinking populations and stimulating local economies.
Last week, it enacted two bills related to the vitalization of local areas. A comprehensive strategy for the issue spanning the next five years will also soon be drafted. In its election promises, the Liberal Democratic Party incorporated the creation of a subsidy that local governments can more freely use and another to help issue money coupons to be used at local shopping areas.
Komeito, too, incorporated in its election pledges the creation of a subsidy to stop the outflow of populations from provincial areas and to help encourage people to settle in the areas.