Young people in Japan’s regional areas are stepping up to help their towns combat the negative effects of population decline which has stymied local economic development.
Making use of extra space
On November 20, 2016, Tokyo’s Senshu University brought together students from across Japan for the annual Open Conference for Town Revitalization . This year’s theme focused on how to make better use of public spaces and a region’s idle assets to spur local activity and revitalize struggling areas.
Here are some ways young people are already making a difference:
A new life for empty houses in Nagasaki City
Along the beautiful hilltops of Nagasaki City, a town famous for breathtaking night views of the Nagasaki Bay area, there has been a noticeable increase in abandoned houses throughout the years. A group of local university students responded by using one of the aging traditional Japanese-style homes to host activities aimed at enriching the local community, such as fireworks parties and yoga classes.
Aomori City beach project
The waterfront near Aomori City’s main rail station used to be a prosperous commercial area with a history stretching back over 200 years. However, the rise of rail transportation and air travel turned the once-bustling shipping hub into a virtual ghost town. To encourage more residents to enjoy the area, local students organized a project to spread a section of the bay with sand to create a new beach. The city’s newest beach also provides an opportunity for local children to learn about marine life and enjoy marine sports.
Unique youth perspectives
Businesses alone cannot breathe new life into regional areas. Young people must play an active role and take ownership of the challenges involved in regional revitalization. By utilizing their unique perspectives, local communities can take broader steps toward revitalizing regional areas and boosting regional economies.