The Guardian introduces us to the city of Yubari, Japan, a place where 90% of the population left once the last colliery closed. With a median age of 57 in 2010, the remaining population is rapidly decreasing"– about a dozen people die in Yubari for every child born." And yet, despite it's imminent demise, the city is still run in that mythically efficient Japanese style.
Yubari has other lessons for the rust-belts of the west, too, although the lessons may be unlearnable. There’s no graffiti, no vandalism and scarcely any crime. Whole years can elapse without a single felony. In 2013 there was less than a single crime of any description per week. Best of all, the state has not abdicated or shirked its responsibilities: there are still at least a dozen post offices, the fire engines are spit-polished and ready to respond to the monthly fire, and the public payphones, should you need one, are immaculate. Nor is the state rapacious: if you qualify, two-bedroom apartments in newish public blocks rent for around £150 a month, there are 40 sheltered housing units for the elderly that rent for less than £30 a month, and if you’re old and poor enough, someone will come and shovel your snow away for nothing.
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