chapter  13
Sustainability of the World Natural Heritage Site: the case of Yakushima
Pages 21

Yakushima is an island located 60 km south of Kyushu, Japan (Figure 13.1). It belongs to the town of Yakushima, Kumage County, and is part of the Osumi Islands, along with Tanegashima and Kuchinoerabujima. The total area of the island is 504.29 km2. The island has many mountains with altitudes of 1,000 m or higher, and the highest peak reaches 1,936 m above sea level. Because it is so mountainous, Yakushima has many slopes and limited flatlands, with narrow compartment areas in the fields. The population of Yakushima peaked at 24,010 in 1960, and it has been decreasing ever since; in 2010, it was 13,589. However, the percentage of people aged 65 years or older has increased from 12.5 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 2010, exceeding the Japanese national average of 24 percent. Clearly, Yakushima is aging rapidly.