Japan’s declining population is making it harder for businesses to stay running. The latest victim: a cell phone store on an Okinawan island that residents say was more than just a cell phone store.
Not just a Docomo store
NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest cell phone carrier, announced that it will be closing its Yaeyama store on the island of Ishigakijima on June 30th.
It’s not just a Docomo store, though: it’s the southernmost Docomo store in all of Japan. Additionally, it’s Ishigakijima’s only Docomo store.
Ishigakijama, in Okinawa Prefecture, is part of the Yaeyama Archipelago. The island of barely 50,000 people, which lies closer to Taiwan than to any of the main Japanese islands, boasts a year-round average temperature of 24.3 degrees Celsius and boasts a beautiful coastline
In other words, it’s an idyllic place to visit or even live. Unless, it seems, you need help with your cell phone.
The loss is a blow to the community, as the Yaeyama store does more than just help people choose the most effective cell phone plan. According to LiveDoor News, shop staff hold events where they regularly help residents with digital-age tasks, such as taking photos and using messaging apps like LINE. Local police also say the store has been instrumental in helping protect older citizens from crooks running fraud schemes.
Docomo says it’s closed the store because it simply can’t keep it staffed. However, it says it won’t leave locals in a lurch and will announce a plan for how its Ishigakijima customers can continue to get assistance.
Dwindling population poses staffing problems countrywide
Japan’s rapidly dwindling and aging population continues to pose challenges for Japanese businesses. Many stores continue to operate at diminished capacity post-pandemic due to a lack of workers. Traditional shops, such as family ramen businesses, are finding it difficult to pass on their legacies, with many stores closing due to the lack of an heir.
Politicians in Japan are floating various proposals to reverse the country’s population decline, including free school lunches and giving families cash. At least one politician, Miyagi Prefecture governor Murai Yoshihiro, has suggested easing the country’s strict immigration policies to allow more foreign workers.
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石垣島唯一のドコモショップ閉店へ 地域に貢献、特殊詐欺被害防いだ功績も. LiveDoor News