Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Sang-Chuel Choe
Chapter 11: Emerging Issues and the Experiences of Economic Regions: The Case of Japan
11. Emerging issues and the experiences of economic regions: the case of Japan Hiroyasu Horio TRENDS AND CHALLENGES FOR NATIONAL LAND POLICY Socio-economic conditions in Japan have undergone drastic changes since 2000 (Table 11.1). The ‘Grand Design for the 21st Century’, the 5th Comprehensive National Development Plan, covered major changes that have taken place during the transition into the twenty-first century. These include significant changes in the national consciousness, the shift to a global age, a declining population and an aging society. Since then, there have been major changes not foreseen in the Grand Design, such as the rapid growth of East Asian countries and regions, a faster than expected depopulating society, and changes in everyday life brought about by the spread of the Internet and mobile phones. POPULATION DECLINE AND AGING The total population of Japan began to decline after peaking in 2004 (127.8 million). According to the population projections for Japan (median projection) by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the total population is forecast to fall to 95.15 million by 2050 (Figure 11.1). Moreover, the elderly population, around 20 percent in 2005, is expected to rise to almost 40 percent by 2050 (Figure 11.2). A declining and aging population raises a wide range of issues such as diminished regional dynamism, an increase in single-person elderly households, how to maintain economic welfare in a period of population decline, how to secure labor inputs with a reduced labor force, and the deterioration of local government finances...
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