The Japanese government offers families 1 million yen per child to leave Tokyo | Japan

Japan’s government is offering 1 million yen ($7,500) per child to families moving out of the Tokyo metropolitan area, in a bid to reverse population declines in the regions.

The incentive, a dramatic increase from the previous relocation fee of 300,000 yen, will be introduced in April, according to Japanese media reports, as part of an official push to breathe life into declining cities and towns.

Though Tokyo’s population fell for the first time last year, a trend attributed in part to the coronavirus pandemic, policymakers believe more must be done to reduce the city’s population density and encourage people to start a new life in “old-fashioned” parts of the country that have been affected by aging, population decline, and the migration of young people to Tokyo, Osaka, and other big cities.

The payment, in addition to the 3 million yen already available in financial support, will be offered to families living in Tokyo’s 23 “core” wards, other parts of the metropolitan area, and neighboring Tokyo commuter belt prefectures. . Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

To receive the benefits, you must move outside of the Tokyo metropolitan area, although some families could receive the cash if they move to mountainous areas that fall within the city limits, the Kyodo news agency said, citing officials. .

Some 1,300 municipalities, about 80% of the total, have signed on to the plan, hoping to capitalize on a shift in public attitudes toward quality of life that gained momentum during the pandemic, when more workers discovered the benefits of working from home. remotely.

However, families hoping to get an easy payday before heading back to the capital will be disappointed. They must live in their new homes for at least five years and one household member must be working or planning to open a new business. Those who move before five years have passed will have to repay the money in cash.

Officials hope the generous sums on offer will encourage families with children as young as 18 to revitalize regions and ease pressure on space and public services in Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolis with a population of about 35. millions.

In principle, relocation receives between 1 and 3 million yen per household, as long as families meet one of three criteria: employment in a small or medium-sized business in the area they are moving to; continue in their old jobs through remote work; or start a business in your new home, according to the Nikkei business daily. After taking into account the higher payments, a family with two children could be eligible to receive up to 5 million yen.

Half of the cash will come from the central government and the other half from local municipalities, Kyodo said.

The scheme has struggled to capture the public imagination since it was launched three years ago, with support provided to 1,184 families in 2021, the year teleworking became most common, up from 71 in 2019 and 290 in 2020. Nikki said.

The government expects 10,000 people to have moved from Tokyo to rural areas by 2027, it added.

To attract new residents, Japan’s empty towns and villages have highlighted the charms of rural life, easy access to daycare centers and, in the case of the town of Otari in Nagano Prefecture, the availability of eligible men.

The latest attempt to reinvigorate the regions comes amid yet another drop in Japanthe population of .

The population of the world’s third-largest economy suffered a record drop of 644,000 in 2020-21, according to government data. It is expected to plummet from today’s 125 million to an estimated 88 million in 2065, a 30% decline in 45 years.

While the number of people over the age of 65 continues to grow, the birth rate remains stubbornly low at 1.3 children, well below the 2.1 needed to maintain the current population size.

In 2021, the number of births totaled 811,604, the lowest since records were first kept in 1899. By contrast, the number of centenarians it numbers over 90,500, compared to just 153 in 1963.

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