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Japan looks to post offices to keep rural areas alive

Train stations and local governments outsource services as population shrinks

Some of Japan's 24,000 post offices have taken on the services of local governments.

TOKYO -- In the village of Yasuoka in Japan's central, mountainous prefecture of Nagano, there is just one elementary school, one junior high school and a population of a little more than 1,600 people. Like many rural areas around the country, it has a shortage of working-age people to provide the public services the community depends on.

Last October, Mayor Teiji Matsushima asked a national government committee on postal service privatization if some of the administrative work normally done by the village government could be outsourced to the local post office. It seemed like good idea, given the village's aging population and shortage of workers.

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