Mark Steyn writes repeatedly about the West's self-immolation on the pyre of low birth rates. While it may still be a trend in many places, it has become a practical reality in Japan:
This mountain village near the Sea of Japan, withered to eight aging residents, concluded recently that it could no longer go on.
So, after months of anguish, the villagers settled on a drastic solution: selling all of Ogama to an industrial waste company from Tokyo, which will turn it into a landfill.
With the proceeds, the villagers, mainly in their 70's, plan to pack up everything, including their family graves, and move in the next few years to yet uncertain destinations, likely becoming the first community in Japan to voluntarily cease to exist.
Ogama's decision, though extreme, points to a larger problem besetting Japan, which has one of the world's fastest-graying societies and whose population began declining last year for the first time in its history. As rural Japan becomes increasingly depopulated, many villages and hamlets like Ogama, along with their traditions and histories, risk vanishing.