Japan’s government is offering families 1 million yen ($7,500) per child to encourage them to move out of the greater Tokyo area in an attempt to reverse the region’s population decline.

This is a significant increase from the previous relocation fee of 300,000 yen and will be implemented in April. The policy is part of an effort to revitalize declining towns and villages and to lower the population density in Tokyo.

Despite the city’s population falling for the first time last year, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials believe more needs to be done to encourage people to start new lives in less popular parts of the country that have been impacted by aging and shrinking populations, as well as the migration of younger people to larger cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

The payment will be offered to families living in the 23 “core” wards of Tokyo, other parts of the metropolitan area, and the surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa.

What is the Japanese government offering?

To qualify, families must move outside the greater Tokyo area, although some may be eligible if they relocate to mountainous areas within the city’s boundaries.

The benefits will be available to about 1,300 municipalities, around 80% of the total. To receive the funds, families must live in their new homes for at least five years and one member of the household must be employed or plan to start a new business.

Those who move out before the five-year period is up will have to return the money. Officials hope the incentives will encourage families with children aged 18 or younger to rejuvenate the regions and ease the strain on space and public services in greater Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolis with a population of approximately 35 million.

In principle, relocating families can receive 1 million to 3 million yen per household if they meet one of three criteria: employment at a small or medium-sized company in their new location, continuing their current jobs through remote work, or starting a business in their new home.

With the additional payments, a family with two children could be eligible for up to 5 million yen.

Half of the funds will come from the central government and the other half from local municipalities. The program has not been particularly successful since it was launched three years ago, with support provided to 1,184 families in 2021, compared to 71 in 2019 and 290 in 2020.

The high per-person amount offered in this program raises the possibility that other governments around the world may adopt similar initiatives to revitalize declining rural areas. Japan, Italy, and China are among the countries that have experienced significant aging populations in recent years, and each government has tried different methods for revitalizing rural areas.

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