This article investigates regional social capital development by focusing on disparities in bonding and bridging social capital among rural and urban areas of Japan. Rural–urban differences in social capital in Western contexts have been discussed by many studies. Their main finding is that bonding social capital is richer in rural areas and bridging social capital is richer in urban areas. However, the empirical evidence presented in this article suggests that in Japan both bridging and bonding social capital are richer in rural than urban areas, diverging from traditional thinking about these two types of social capital. This finding suggests that urbanization and depopulation in rural areas of Japan have led to changes in people's behavior and their demand for social networks, promoting the development of bridging social capital in rural areas.
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