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OECD Territorial Reviews: Japan 2016

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Japan 2016

Japan is embarked on a demographic transition without precedent in human history: the population is both declining and ageing rapidly. This raises important questions about the country's future economic geography, as public policies will need both to respond to these shifts and also to shape them. Demographic change will have particularly important implications for the settlement pattern of the country, and this, in turn, will affect Japan's ability to sustain economic growth and the well-being of its citizens. This Review therefore focuses on the spatial implications of demographic change and the response of spatial policies to it, particularly as these interact with other policies aimed at sustaining the productivity growth that a "super-ageing" Japan will need in order to maintain its future prosperity. The Japanese authorities have recently put in place a complex package of long-term spatial and structural policies aimed at meeting this challenge. Their experience should be of first-order interest to other OECD countries, as most face the prospect of rapid population ageing and many are also projected to experience significant population decline over the coming decades.

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Long-term vision, planning and governance in Japan

This chapter considers the institutional and policy framework that Japan is putting into place in order to secure national prosperity and a sustainable settlement pattern in the face of the quite radical demographic changes now under way. It starts with an analysis of the National Spatial Strategy adopted in 2015 and a look at the work of the Government Headquarters for Overcoming Population Decline and Revitalising the Local Economy. This is followed by a discussion of the relationship between revitalisation efforts and policies aimed at greater decentralisation in Japan’s public governance. Two further sections focus on inter-governmental revenue-sharing and grant allocation and on possible pathways for reforming inter-governmental transfer mechanisms. The final portions of the chapter consider national infrastructure policies and the future of local public corporations, particularly – but not only – those working in infrastructure sectors.

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