Japanese Urban Centers Fading In Rural Prefectures

<p>Smaller cities in rural areas of Japan are being gutted out, as big box centers continue to sprout up outside cities.</p>
December 6, 2007, 1pm PST | Nate Berg
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"The only outward sign of conflict here is the red flags of protest, but this small logging city on Japan's remote northern coast is seething."

"A proliferation of national chain stores outside town has already forced the closing of about half of the city's once teeming central shopping district. Now, many in this normally restrained rural community see the megamall being built nearby... as the final nail in the coffin of their economy."

"The changes began during Japan's doldrums, when the government tried to revive growth by slowly but steadily deregulating entire swaths of the economy.... As seen in Noshiro, some of the biggest upheavals followed the lifting of restrictions on large stores, a step originally urged by Washington to admit American retailers."

"As in the United States, this has filled the countryside with large shopping malls and strips of chain stores, some American but most domestic, at the expense of town centers."

Thanks to Caleb Prichard

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Published on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 in International Herald Tribune
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