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population in peril

Japan to offer families 1 million yen per child to relocate from overcrowded Tokyo

The Japanese government is offering families 1 million yen (~$7,700) per child if they move out of Tokyo, the country's capital, CNN reports. The incentive is part of an effort to get residents to leave the city to revitalize rural regions heavily impacted by the country's falling birth rate. 

A spokesperson from the central government said that starting in April, couples with children and single parents will be eligible to receive the relocation benefits if they move out of the Toyko metropolitan area to less densely populated areas around the country, per CNN. The forthcoming financial incentive is more than triple the 300,000 yen (~$2,300) the government currently offers families who relocate. 

Officials hope the scheme will help reverse the effects of the country's struggling fertility rate while diversifying rural areas with a rapidly aging population of senior citizens. In 2021, the Statistics Bureau of Japan found that 28.9 percent of the country's total population was at least 65 years old, a record high, per CNBC. That same year, 0-14-year-olds accounted for just 11.8 percent of the population, the lowest number ever recorded in the country. 

Experts say the growing number of young people migrating from the countryside to crowded cities like Tokyo is playing a significant role in Japan's demographic crisis, per CNN. They believe urban Japanese couples are choosing not to have kids because of the skyrocketing cost of city living, the limited space, and the lack of urban childcare facilities. Rural regions, meanwhile, are left with fewer residents and millions of unoccupied residences.

The incentivized relocation campaign began in 2019 and is growing in popularity, albeit very slowly. In 2021, 1,184 families accepted the money to relocate, compared with 71 families in the program's inaugural year. However, that's still quite a ways away from the government's goal of relocating 10,000 people by 2027.