Relocate from Tokyo

Starting off the new year, the Japanese government is trying to tackle the population crisis of its numerous towns, villages and smaller cities. For many years the population of local towns and communities has been on the decline; leaving some areas completely abandoned.

To combat this, the Japanese government has announced an initiative to try and entice families to relocate away from the ever-expanding Tokyo metropolitan area. The scheme involves awarding families; who currently live within one of the 23 designated wards and districts of the inner and greater Tokyo area; 1 million yen per child to those who take up the opportunity. 

There is of course a caveat to this: the families that do relocate must remain in their new home for a period of at least five years. If they decide to move home again before that time period, they must repay the entire sum.

The scheme which is set to start in April this year is a step-up from the currently available 300,000 yen being offered which has been in effect since 2019, this comes alongside other payments such as those for relocating work or starting an entirely new business in the new location. Japanese families could be eligible for up to an additional 3 million yen if they fulfil this criteria. 

When it comes to the question ‘where in Japan can you move to?’ The answer is reportedly to be a choice of 1300 participating municipalities within the country. (There are approximately 1700 in total throughout the country.)

Background context

The circumstances that have led to this decision, and others since 2019, result from the increasing population decline of the country’s smaller communities and the redistribution of its citizens to major hubs like Tokyo. This is especially true for rural areas where whole villages have been known to become completely empty after residents move to other regions with better prospects and infrastructure. 

Younger generations often decide to move away from their hometown in search for better work and opportunities, but this also takes away the generation cycle that has perhaps existed for many years. 

Some communities have received media attention due to their efforts to address their diminishing numbers. Places such as Nagoro Village in Shokoku have now become known as Scarecrow Village after remaining residents decided to create lifesize dolls to replace their missing neighbours.

Take a look at the video by Tokyo Lens to see for yourself

The purpose of this was not to attract such attention but a personal attempt to bring some life back to the surroundings. If anything, it highlights the extent at which population decline and redistribution in Japan is occurring. 

Although this is one example brought to light by the unusual methods, there are many others around the country just like it — but without the dolls.

While the Japanese government’s initiative most likely won’t immediately help places like this, it’s an example of what the country is trying to stop and hopefully reverse.