Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Ophelia Goma

Second Advisor

Larry Stimpert

Third Advisor

Hiroko Chiba


With Japan losing its overall population due to low fertility rate, rural depopulation has become a prevalent issue across the country. This thesis examines Oonan Town in Shimane Prefecture as a case study, as it is a rural town that has been successful in getting in-migrants back into the community. Through oral, biographical interviews, participants reported factors that played a significant role in the migration decision-making process. Data show that in-migrants in Oonan Town were largely affected by four factors, which are 1) family ties, 2) life course events, 3) lifestyle preferences, and 4) financial factors. The current study also presents two theoretical frameworks, economic approach and behavioral approach, to understand migratory decision-making process. Data largely support the behavioral approach, which asserts that the dissatisfaction about the current place of living combined with knowledge about an alternative place he/she could migrate to leads to stress, which in turn leads to the decision to migrate. Furthermore, the success of Oonan Town in recruiting in-migrants can be largely attributed to two factors, which are the town policy and slogan that targets very specific in-migrants (i.e., families with young children) and the great care the government takes in making sure that the in-migrants demand fits with what the town is like in actuality. The current study sheds light on how rural, disappearing communities can revitalize their towns by attracting in-migrants back into their community.


Honor Scholar thesis