An area of vital importance at the national and local levels where there are inter-connected factors of cause and effect, and which have deep implications for social and economic stability in Japan’s shrinking regions, is in the relationship between depopulation and infrastructure development. One factor that has long been identified as contributing to geographical peripherality has been a relative lack of transportation infrastructure connecting regional settlements to larger population centers. While potentially devastating in its ramifications stemming from the out-migration of younger people in search of education and employment, over the long-term, this lack of connecting transportation infrastructure also separates family members, making it difficult to make frequent and convenient trips and, in addition, handicaps the potential of outlying areas to attract visitors from elsewhere. However, a somewhat unexplored area of research, especially in respect of Japan, has been the effects that regional transportation infrastructure have actually had either in stemming out-migration or, even, accelerating the phenomenon.
Contribution to the chapter ‘Contrasting Experiences of Growth and Decline in Regional Japan’, in Japan’s Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century: Contemporary Responses to Depopulation and Socioeconomic Decline by P. Matanle and A. Rausch with the Shrinking Regions Research Group (eds.), Cambria Press (2011), pp131-154, ISBN 9781604977585.
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