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Tuesday, 12th January 2016
In Japan Travel News,

Japanese train company keeps station open for sole passenger

A train company in Japan has resisted the urge to close a station that is barely used, as one passenger alights and boards the train there every day.

The Kami-Shirataki station is located in the far north of Japan and is the destination for a lone traveller who uses it to get to and from school.

She boards the train at 7.04am to head out for her studies and returns at 5.08pm, but is not joined by crowds of other passengers on the platform.

Social media has been full of praise for the Hokkaido Railway Company that runs the service, since China’s CCTV broke the story, which has since gone viral.

Plans were afoot to shut the station down three years ago, but when it came to light that it was a vital facility for the student these were postponed.

Instead, Kami-Shirataki station will remain open until March 26th, which is the end of the school year and the day that the unnamed girl will graduate.

A comment left on the CCTV Facebook page said: "This is the meaning of good governance penetrating right to the grassroot level. Every citizen matters. No child left behind!"

The general consensus among those praising the railway company for the move to stay open is that the culture in Japan sees the education of young people as an important investment in the country’s future.

It does, however, highlight the population crisis that Japan is currently subject to, with forecasts suggesting it will have contracted by a third to 85 million by 2060.

The situation is particularly bad in the countryside, as this example in rural Hokkaido shows, where people are moving into the city due to a lack of employment options.

No fewer than 20 railway lines on the northerly island have seen services suspended in recent years, because there is not enough demand for them.