The Japanese government is significantly boosting the amount of money it is offering families to leave the bustling metropolis and move to rural areas that are experiencing population declines.
The incentive that will begin in April will provide families with 1 million yen, $7,500, per child, to move out of Tokyo and relocate to rural areas that have been suffering population declines, The Guardian reported.
The previous relocation fee had been 300,000 yen per child and the new incentive comes as lawmakers try to encourage young people to move to rural cities to counteract the influx of younger people to larger cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
Families, who are already eligible for up to 3 million yen of additional support from the government, will qualify for the program if they live in the 23 “core” wards of Tokyo along with the neighboring commuter neighborhoods of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.
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The program is structured to prevent families from taking the cash and then quickly returning to the capital. The families must live in their new home for at least five years with at least one family member and must either secure a job or open a new business.
If those requirements are not met, the money must be returned to the government.
Tokyo’s population fell for the first time in 2022, which some attribute to the coronavirus pandemic, but lawmakers believe the world’s largest city of 35 million will still continue to struggle with overcrowding.
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The initiative was launched three years ago and has struggled to gain traction. Roughly 1,200 families took advantage of the program in 2021, when working remote became more common, compared to 71 families in 2019 and 290 in 2020.
The government hopes 10,000 people will have moved from Tokyo to rural areas by 2027.
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The rural towns and villages have marketed themselves as areas conducive to families with charming locations, easy access to child care, and the availability of young men as the country continues to witness lowering birthrates and a struggling economy.
The number of births in Japan totaled 811,604 in 2021, which was the lowest recorded since the stat started being tracked in 1899. At the same time, the number of people 100 years old or more stands at 90,500 compared to only 153 in 1963.