« ベアリング業界 不正な「なれ合い」を断ち切れ | トップページ | 地方公務員法 政治活動への規制強化が要る »

2012年6月26日 (火)

買い物弱者 地域の生命と活力守る支援を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 26, 2012)
Assist 'disadvantaged shoppers,' revitalize local economies
買い物弱者 地域の生命と活力守る支援を(6月25日付・読売社説)

Stores in many neighborhoods have closed, but residents do not have the means of transportation to reach distant places to shop. The problem of "disadvantaged shoppers" who face obstacles in buying daily necessities such as food is quite serious.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has estimated the number of disadvantaged shoppers based on the national census, commerce statistics and other data.

There are as many as 9.1 million people around the country without cars whose homes are 500 meters or more from stores where they can buy fresh food. Ten percent of the populations of Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefecture are disadvantaged shoppers. The number topped 500,000 in Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture, respectively.


Problem not only in rural areas

People tend to think disadvantaged shoppers exist only in remote areas where depopulation and aging are steadily progressing and there is little public transportation. However, the ministry's study shows urban areas are no exception to the trend.

Due to the advance of mass market retailers into suburban areas, local shopping arcades are being deserted and small shops are closing. This trend is growing nationwide.

This is a serious situation that shows so-called food deserts--areas where daily food necessities such as fish, meat and vegetables are inaccessible--have been growing.

Both the public and private sectors should cooperate to map out various measures to deal with the respective situations of local communities.

A variety of programs have already started in some areas, including mobile stores operated by local brick-and-mortar stores that visit residential areas, Net supermarkets that deliver commodities ordered online and shopping buses operated by residents.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, mini-mobile convenience stores in the quake-hit areas encouraged the quake-hit victims and contributed greatly to restoration of their daily lives.


Creative ideas necessary

We expect the distribution industry to produce imaginative and creative ideas. Helping disadvantaged shoppers can also become an opportunity for businesses to uncover demand they previously missed. We hope the industry will look into the matter from a long-term business perspective.

Nevertheless, some places such as underpopulated areas deep in the mountains will remain unprofitable no matter how hard the private sector alone tries. It will be indispensable for local governments to support private companies' efforts.

It may be necessary for local governments to promote the "compact city" initiative--bringing commercial and residential districts physically closer together--while securing public transportation for aged people that will make it easier for them to go shopping. Such community planning is important.

If the problem of disadvantaged shoppers is left untouched, the outflow of population will never stop and local communities will become further devitalized. We hope residents, volunteers, companies and local administrations will combine their wisdom to come up with ways they can work together.

Concerning assistance to disadvantaged shoppers, a wide range of policy problems are interrelated--revitalization of local communities, transport policy and distribution of food are examples.

The farm ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry should not carry out research or introduce model cases separately, but reinforce measures to assist the shoppers in a unified manner as the government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2012)
(2012年6月25日01時25分  読売新聞)


« ベアリング業界 不正な「なれ合い」を断ち切れ | トップページ | 地方公務員法 政治活動への規制強化が要る »





« ベアリング業界 不正な「なれ合い」を断ち切れ | トップページ | 地方公務員法 政治活動への規制強化が要る »