Japan is offering families 1 million yen (approximately $7,627) per child to move out of Tokyo in hopes of reducing overcrowding.
An additional 700,000 yen (approximately $5,339) was added to what was originally 300,000 yen (approximately $2,288) due to the heightened concentration of people in the country’s capital. With a population of 125.7 million, 28 percent of Japan’s population (approximately 35 million) is focused in Tokyo and its neighboring areas of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.
The Japanese government’s fear of overcrowding stems from increasing risks for potential earthquakes. In 2019, Japan’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion emphasized a 47 percent chance of a strong earthquake in Tokyo within the next 30 years.
Officials’ fears were confirmed this October when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s capital. In March, Japan’s northeast coast faced a 7.4 magnitude earthquake, leaving four dead and thousands without power.
As a result, the government hopes to incentivize families in the main metropolitan area — as well as those in neighboring areas — to relocate to Japan’s regional areas, Daily Mail reports.
Families who take part of this relocation program may move to host municipalities (towns with local governments) or mountainous regions in Tokyo and its neighboring areas.
However, to receive the government’s offer of 1 million yen per child, recipients will be required to live in their relocated area for a minimum of five years while employed. Those who fail to adhere to these requirements will be asked to return the money.
In adherence to the government’s goals, approximately 1,300 municipalities took part in the relocation program in 2022. However, only 2,381 recipients have participated in relocation efforts since 2019.
In addition to the relocation program, the Japanese government also presented a stalled proposal to develop Osaka as a second capital in 2011. In 2019, the government also relocated the Consumer Affairs Agency to the island of Shikoku.
However, despite overpopulation concerns in Japan’s major cities, the country faces a rapidly declining birth rate. The birth count for 2022 is expected to fall below the previous year’s record low of 811,000 births in what Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno described as a “critical situation.”
Although the government has attempted to encourage its younger population to reproduce through payments of subsidies, many have pointed to high living costs, corporate culture, difficult economic conditions, lack of inclusivity and individual freedom as reasons against marriage and childbirth.