The way Yoshihiro Shibata recently described to the Los Angeles Times what has become of his village made me think of some of the saddest cities in the interior United States.
Only about 250 occupied homes remain, he said. When it comes time for a traditional cultural festival, no one can find enough young men to hoist the float that should be carried around, so it just sits on the ground.
But Shibata wasn’t merely describing a town whose main industry was lost to time and technology, like some Appalachian coal mining village. He was describing the leading edge of a depopulation wave sweeping across his nation.
This isn’t the story you’re used to hearing — the one about how overpopulation is going to destroy the planet. We’ve heard that one since Thomas Malthus miscalculated the future in 1798 when he wrote, “An essay on the principles of population.”
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Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist of the Deseret News. He has 32 years experience as a reporter, editor and editorial writer in Oklahoma, New York City, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. He also has been an adjunct journalism professor at Brigham Young and Weber State universities.