The Guardian

Japan’s government is offering ¥1m ($7,500) per child to families who move out of greater Tokyo, in an attempt to reverse population decline in the regions.

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

Although Tokyo’s population fell for the first time last year– a trend partly attributed to the coronavirus pandemic – policymakers believe more should be done to lower the city’s population density and encourage people to start new lives in “unfashionable” parts of the country that have been hit by ageing, shrinking populations and the migration of younger people to Tokyo, Osaka and other big cities.

The payment – which comes on top of up to ¥3m already available in financial support – will be offered to families living in the 23 “core” wards of Tokyo and the neighbouring commuter-belt prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

To receive the benefits, families must move outside the greater Tokyo area, although some could receive the cash if they relocate to mountainous areas that lie within the city’s boundaries, the Kyodo news agency said, quoting officials.

About 1,300 municipalities – roughly 80% of the total – have joined the scheme, hoping to capitalise in a shift in public attitudes towards quality of life that gained momentum during the pandemic, when more workers discovered the benefits of working remotely.

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