The Extinction of Komatsushima City


Theme:Sound House Founders Column Ricks Opinion

Rickの本寝言 サウンドハウス創業者が本音をついつい寝言でつぶやく!

Japan's population is rapidly declining. The end of Japan's history is no longer a dream, but is now a reality. According to one theory, the population will be reduced by half in 60 years, 130,000 in 500 years, and eventually to zero. A population of 130,000 in 500 years is almost equivalent to none. This means the end of Japan's history. Moreover, 500 years is only a few generations away, and it will come sooner than we know. This is no longer another person’s problem to take care of.

These problems related to population decline have already begun to undermine cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. According to the Population Strategy Council, a group of experts, Komatsushima City in Tokushima Prefecture has been listed as one of the municipalities "likely to disappear" in the future. It is a shocking report. Of course, Wada Island, located in Komatsushima City, will not escape the same fate, and is destined to disappear along with Komatsushima City.

The most important reason for this is the outflow of young women between the ages of 20 and 39. In Komatsushima City, the rate of decrease in the number of young women over a 30-year period from 2020 to 2050 is estimated to be 58%. In Kaiyo Town, where Takegashima is located, the rate is as high as 74%. The disappearance of young women means, of course, that there will be no possibility for new children to be born. Thus, the declining birthrate will further accelerate, inevitably leading to a major crisis of depopulation.

Most of the municipalities in the Tohoku region will also suffer the same fate. Working in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, I am struck by how few women there are in the town, which is already experiencing a significant out-migration of women by 2024, which suggests that it may soon face the worst-case scenario of municipal disappearance as predicted by the "Population Strategy Council.

I am of course a man, but I have wondered what I would do if I were a young woman. The city of Komatsushima in Tokushima Prefecture not only has an aging population, but there were 3,800 abandoned houses in 2018, and it is estimated that the number will exceed 5,000 by 2024. In other words, the entire city is full of vacant houses. In addition, many of the stores in the city remain closed, and the city itself has an undeniably worn down appearance. Even if I talk about local industries, there is no sign of any promising field of development since the use of the Komatsushima Port has been restricted recently. Not only are the fishermen involved in the fishing industry aging, but there is no room for women in the fishing industry, which is basically a male-dominated profession. And, with apologies to the fishermen, not many women are interested in becoming fishermen's wives. This is merely a conclusion based on the position of the average Japanese woman. Therefore, I do not think that women can expect a pleasant life if they remain in Komatsushima City, but rather, I do not see a future for them at all.

Difficult problems are only piling up. At the administrative level, there is a great deal of effort to create an environment conducive to child rearing by adding measures to encourage young women to stay in the town. For example, the town of Itano in Tokushima Prefecture has made childcare completely free of charge and is making efforts to support child rearing. As a result, it is reported that the retention rate of young women has improved. Consequently, the active measures made by the government like childcare support have proven to be indispensable. However, population decline is not limited to the outflow of young women. There is a noticeable tendency for young men to go to large cities as well. In Tokushima Prefecture, it appears that not many men and women actually want to work in Osaka, Kobe, or Kyoto. In the Tohoku region, many young men and women go to Sendai. In Kyushu, many young people seem to envision Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture. These large cities have one thing in common; they all have jobs. This means that their lives are stable and they also have the advantage of comfortable housing, as they are well-equipped with residential-related facilities. Another important factor is the opportunity to meet people. Young people can meet people of the opposite sex, friends, etc., and find the possibility to do so in the city. In other words, the advantage of the city is that you can live your life as you wish. Of course, there are also many places to play and relax, and the dining districts are booming. Therefore, the trend of population concentration in urban areas is expected to continue.

So what should Komatsushima City, one of the 16 municipalities in Tokushima Prefecture identified by the "Population Strategy Council" as having the potential to "disappear," do? The solution is not an easy one, but here is a list of the solutions that come to mind.

  1. Attract businesses like Sound House and promote employment
  2. Promote employment while at the same time improving the housing environment and changing the city's landscape
  3. Implement supportive measures to make it easier to raise children and completely make free medical care and education
  4. Improve parks, sports facilities, etc. so that citizens can use them freely
  5. Attract educational and popular sports-related organizations and establish boarding schools.
  6. Improve the old port of Komatsushima into one of the best yacht harbors in Shikoku and rent it to wealthy people who own boats
  7. Create a tour spot in an old warehouse at the Port of Komatsushima to experience Tokushima culture and expect inbound visitors.
  8. Plan a cruise ship tour from Komatsushima to see the Naruto whirlpools, and include fishing and nature experiences as an extension of this tour.
  9. Make Komatsushima a town of live music, attract live music clubs and give the town a flourishing nightlife.
  10. Promote urban development surrounding the sports facilities on Wadajima to create Wadajima Town.

With Komatsushima in danger of disappearing, we must do whatever we can. My dream is that one of these proposed measures will be a hit and succeed. By doing so, V-DAY, which is feared to be disappearing, will be extended, even if only gradually. The time has come for us to realize that if we do not work together now to make this dream a reality, there will be no future for us.

This is why we must build Wadajima Town.

Rick Nakajima

Born in Tokyo in 1957, Rick Nakajima went to the States as a teenager to train in tennis and pursued his studies at the University of Southern California, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Fuller Theological Seminary. Rick returned back to Japan where he then founded Sound House in 1993. Since then, Rick continues to manage his musical instrument and audio equipment online retail business with the aim to revitalize Japan through the power of music. In addition to giving his full devotion to running his companies, Rick is also active in community outreach projects and researches ancient history while traveling throughout his native land. Rick also runs a local newspaper called the JAPAN CITY JOURNAL. He has made contributing to the spiritual renaissance of the nation his life's work; he uses his website historyjp.com as a platform to break down history through an accessible fresh perspective while also unearthing the roots of Japan.



Translated articles



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