Accepted Paper:

Changing social order under the condition of population decrease in Japan  

Author:

Goro Yamazaki (Osaka University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper explore the progress of population decreases from the perspective of the transformation of the local community and discuss how human and non-human actors alike articulate a society that is totally different from that of modern society.

Paper long abstract:

The population of Japan started to decrease in 2015 and it is estimated that around 900 rural communities will disappear in the next 30 years because of the population decrease. In this paper I will explore the progress of such population decreases from the perspective of the transformation of the local community and discuss how human and non-human actors alike -- i.e. animals, river currents, mountain forests, empty houses --articulate a society that is totally different from that of modern society.

I have been doing my research in the Keihoku area, a northern part of Kyoto city, where the population has decreased at a rapid rate since the 1960s. Only 5371 people are currently living in this area, while over 10,000 people were living there in the 1960s. It is said that the population will halve in the next 10 years if nothing is done to address depopulation.

Under such conditions, one irony is that the number of Japanese deer in the area is already larger than that of human inhabitants. Indeed, residents comment that it is not strange, for example, to see families of wild boars living in empty houses. Because of the high rate of population decline, many aspects of social life and environmental dynamics have started to evolve beyond the range of human attention and intervention. I will try to capture and describe this newly emerging society that is being co-created by humans and non-humans in the age of population decrease.

Panel LL-AS03
Ecological refugees: movements of people from marginalized regions due to environmental problems [Commission for Marginalization and Global Apartheid and Commission for Anthropology and Environment)