Japanese government plans to offer up to 1 million yen per child to families who leave Tokyo metropolitan area, an additional incentive to reverse population decline in rural areas.
The government is about to offer families up to 1 million yen (7,654 dollars) per child up to 18 years old when they relocate from Tokyo metropolitan area.
Families can already receive up to 3 million yen ($22,962) in base financial support to move to less crowded areas of Japan. The fresh incentive of 1 million yen will increase from 300,000 yen already offered per child, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo News.
This additional financial boost is set to be implemented on April 2023 with the new fiscal year.
Families eligible for the incentive need to reside in the 23 wards of Tokyo or in the surrounding areas like Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.
The population of Japan’s capital is close to 14 million people. With the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work, Tokyo lost people in 2022 for the first time since 1996. However, the city is one of the densest in the world, with 6,410 persons per square kilometer (16,867 per square mile) in 2020, and its metropolitan area is the most populous in the world: 30 percent of the 124 million Japanese live there.
Yet, almost 14 percent of homes, or 8.5 million dwellings, in Japan remain permanently vacant, mostly in rural areas, according to OECD data from May 2021. This was the highest proportion among the 20 OECD countries with available data.
About 1,300 Japanese municipalities took part in the relocation support program this year. Half of the support they provide to movers is covered by the state. People who want to relocate need to stay at least five years while employed or working, or else they would need to return the money granted.
This means a family of four, with two parents and two young children, can receive up to 5 million yen to leave Tokyo if they stay there for five years at least.
Other countries like Spain try to curb population decline in rural areas. The Spanish government has been offering money to young adults to help them buy or rent a place in small rural towns.
The incentive has been implemented in Japan since 2019 but it has only attracted 2,381 people during the 2021 fiscal year Kyodo News reports.