Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Amanda Carrico

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Yumiko Matsunaga

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to understand how the environment and well-being of rural Japan will be affected by depopulation and aging populations caused by low birth-rates and migration to urban areas. Rural abandonment will undoubtedly cause changes to local environments and there is a lack of studies in English aimed at understanding the environmental and wellbeing changes happening in Japan due to this change. To study this phenomenon, I designed and distributed a survey to residents of rural Japan designed to measure environmental concern, wellbeing, and perceived change in environment. I also reviewed existing studies from other countries about the effects of rural abandonment and the causes of Japan’s depopulation. I found that, while the effects of rural abandonment are not fully understood, the known negative changes are not beyond mitigation efforts. It is by no means clear cut whether depopulation and urbanization result in net positive or negative changes; this paper adds to the discussion of how to deal with these issues and recommends further discussion about the local versus global implications of changing populations.

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