It is particularly backbreaking for elderly people who live in small cities of rural Japan to go to hospitals or grocery shopping. This is a result of reduced or abolished bus routes due to a decrease in the number of users, which thus led to the advent of a taxi service targeted for aged people only. Cabs that operate exclusively for elderly citizens can be used without any burden when they pay a certain amount of money.
It is a common topic around the globe to see the regional areas experience a decline as the population is focused in large cities. This becomes especially more serious in Japan, which is the fastest aging society in the world. The Japanese Society of Prosperity, a private think-tank, classified local governments that have a difficult time maintaining its administrative function due to decreased population as “potential extinction cities” in 2014 and alarmed that, 896, one-third of local governments, will disappear by 2040. According to a report by Yomiuri, 80 percent of the potential extinction cities is witnessing a decrease in population that is progressing faster than expected.
All kinds of countermeasures by the Japanese government and local governments failed to reap any significant result. In this backdrop, Kamiyama, which is a village in the mountainous district with a population of some 6,000, is gaining attention as a model case. The village, of which more than half of its population was aged, is home to some 10 IT corporations where remote working is possible. Thanks to these corporations, a great number of workforce flowed into the village. It not only has high-speed communications network but also rents old traditional houses at a cheap price after fixing them. Kamiyama village provides group workrooms for artists and organic coffee shops and pizza places that use fire pot with wood fire can be seen. To put it simply, work and infrastructure for life that draws the attention of younger generation has been built.
Of course, there has been a hidden contributor for revitalizing the village. Shinya Oninami, who was born in Kamiyama village and studied engineering at Stanford University, established a non-profit organization called “Green Valley” in 1999 and sought for creative methods to save her home town. The fruits of Shinya’s hard work recreated today’s Kamiyama. Last year, the Korea Employment Information Service predicted that 85 among 228 local governments will disappear within 30 years. Experts say that Korea needs to build a community where the young generation, especially women, want to live in order to prevent rural areas from disappearing.