Policy Brief: The Role of Domestic In-migrants for the Revitalization of Marginal Island Communities in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan

By Simona Zollet (corresponding author) & Meng Qu, Hiroshima University (Japan)


This brief summarizes the preliminary findings of a research project on domestic urban-to-rural migration to the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. We focus on in-migrants who established small independent businesses on the islands, and particularly those engaged in tourism, creative industries and organic farming. The study explores the motivations, challenges and opportunities associated with living and establishing small businesses in island communities, and the implications for wider processes of revitalization of marginal rural areas. We used two main research questions as a guide: 1) which factors attract this type of in-migrants to the islands? and 2) is there evidence that their activities give a positive contribution to rural revitalization in these areas? The results of the study may offer insights that can inform local policies aimed at fostering the revitalization of island communities through the settlement of in-migrants. Moreover, considering the global scale of depopulation issues in marginal and remote islands, the findings might be useful to similar island communities in other parts of the world.

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