Let’s imagine that for whatever reason you are living in the countryside of Japan. According to the Sakura Report of the Bank of Japan from July 2010 the outlook in the countryside seems very bleak. Most companies from seven of Japan’s nine regions expect business to worsen in the next three months. Kanto – as the region where Tokyo is located – seems to be the only area where business anticipates some improvement. So what can you expect from your future in the countryside?
In urban areas like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, of course things look a bit better, because for example Tokyo’s unemployment rate is a bit below the national average of 5.2 percent and for sure well below the 8 percent recorded in the north. Not surprisingly the younger generation has to leave rural Japan, which results in Tokyo’s population growth by 1 million in the last decade. Amazingly the economy of Tokyo and its surrounding areas generates 31 percent of the GDP of Japan. While the typical countryside based factory jobs are moving abroad, in Tokyo the big companies headquarters are expected to stay. I do not expect any big changes in the near future, which causes the disparity to widen even further. Moreover now with the increased national deficit, cuts on funds for the countryside has to be expected. Previously taxpayers in Tokyo made sure that there is enough funds moving back, which created a reliance that discouraged independence in the regions. According to Bloomberg News in the countryside they never saw a need to develop their own business models, their own products and their own bridge to global markets.
I am really wondering about the political impact on the upcoming elections. I believe there is no choice than continue with further cuts on public works due to the huge deficit, so I am very doubtful whether there can be any options created for the one’s living in the countryside. Who is responsible? The one’s who cannot send money back to the countryside for support, or the one’s who do not try hard enough to create business in the countryside? I have to confess, I do not know the answer. Do you?
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)