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Japan Is a Trumpian Paradise of Low Immigration Rates. It’s Also a Dying Country.
Opinion
By Opinion
Published 5 years ago on
August 30, 2019

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KITAKYUSHU, Japan — For a sense of what the United States might look like in a reality where the hard right’s dreams of drastically reduced immigration come true, you could come to Japan and ask my father-in-law about the house across the street. The owner of the house died some time ago in this low-key, working-class suburb of Kitakyushu, in Japan’s southern island. The house has fallen badly into disrepair. None of the heirs seems interested in it: The taxes are too high, and there isn’t really a market for this kind of house anyway.
It’s far from a unique story. Japan’s population is shrinking, with far-reaching consequences that seep into every corner of life here. “Akiya” — abandoned houses like the one blighting my in-laws’ street — are just one sign of it. As the country ages and older people die with no one to replace them, neighborhoods across Japan are also slowly dying.

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