Japan to start paying citizens one million yen to leave Tokyo

The financial incentives highlight the challenges that Japan is facing with its low birth rate and long life expectancy.

Rainbow Bridge at night, Tokyo, Japan (photo credit: GUSSISAURIO/CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Rainbow Bridge at night, Tokyo, Japan
(photo credit: GUSSISAURIO/CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Japan's capital is so overcrowded that the government is offering to pay families to move out— an attempt to strengthen countryside towns and rejuvenate the dwindling birth rate.

Beginning in April, families in the Tokyo metropolitan area, including those headed by single parents, will be eligible to receive 1 million yen ($7,700) per child if they relocate to less-populated areas across the country, according to a spokesperson from the central government.

Not the first attempt at paying people to leave 

The amount is more than triple the 300,000 yen incentive already in place, the reports said.

Japan’s government began the initiative to entice families to regional areas in 2019, allowing households who have lived in the central Tokyo metropolitan area for five years to apply for support funds if they move.

Citizens are given the option to work remotely at their current job, work at a local small or medium sized business, or start a business in the local area — which would allow them to apply for additional financial support.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz during a visit to Japan in August 2022 (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY) Defense Minister Benny Gantz during a visit to Japan in August 2022 (credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Why is Japan paying families to leave Tokyo? 

The nation's financial incentives highlight the challenges that Japan is facing with its low birth rate and long life expectancy. Rural areas have seen rapid depopulation as the young move away for city life, leaving an abundance of abandoned homes. 

The increased support for children comes on top of a flat 1 million yen that families can get for moving. Under the new proposal, a household with two children could receive 3 million yen in support if they bid farewell to Tokyo.