Genkai shūraku (限界集落, literally limitative or limitational hamlet, also translated as marginal hamlet) is any village or hamlet within a merged town or village in Japan that has experienced depopulation and in danger of disappearing altogether, largely because half of the people living there reach the age of 65 and over.
Such villages are generally found in mountain villages and outlying islands. Villages facing this sort of situation have seen the functions of a community - local government autonomy, maintaining of roads, and ceremonial occasions - rapidly declining, and are facing losing these altogether.
Akira Ōno, a professor of emeritus at Nagano University first proposed the concept in 1991 while teaching humanities at Kōchi University.
A number of surveys have been conducted to explore the phenomenon. In 2005 the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries commissioned a committee on rural development to do a survey on the true state of genkai shuraku (March 2006). According to the results, there were an estimated 1403 villages that were found to be in danger. These results were based on census results in agricultural villages. In April 2006, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism commissioned a survey on the state of depopulating areas. The report stated that, of the 62,273 villages that were visited, 775 of them were depopulating.
|Sonzoku shuraku (存続集落)||More than 50% of the population is no more than 55||Successors are ensured, and the next generation can continue the cooperative body|
|Jun genkai shuraku (準限界集落)||More than 50% of the population is over 55||The current body can run things, but there is difficulty in finding successors, and there is a potential of becoming genkai shuraku|
|Genkai shuraku (限界集落)||More than 50% of the population is over 65||The population is aging, and the function of the governing body is becoming limited|
|Shōmetsu shuraku (消滅集落)||Population of 0||The village has literally vanished, and the population is gone|