One of the main themes of this talk is that there can now be found evidence of a discernable shift in parts of Japan away from values that stress economic growth towards values that stress sustainability and environmental protection. Japan's population is now shrinking - but there is an imbalance in how this process is being played out. Dr Matanle used maps to illustrate his talk that show how the depopulation process is unequally spread over Japan as a whole and over Niigata prefecture in particular (where Dr Matanle did much fieldwork). He researched efforts in Sado island to address the problem of its shrinking population and economy, and found that there was an acceptance of the fact that the population was not going to revive to previous levels. Instead local people emphasized policies to do with caring for elderly people and those in need, looking after the natural environment (including the development of limited eco-tourism) and preserving traditional culture in the form of local arts and crafts and architecture. Dr Matanle concluded that ocal residents in Sado island know that they cannot reestablish economic growth and so instead they work towards achieving community stability and sustainability.
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