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Japan introduced new monetary incentives this week to urge families to move out of Tokyo, a move aimed to address decades of demographic decline and economic migration to the capital, the Financial Times reported Monday.

Officials said the government will offer families up to $7,600 per child if they relocate to municipalities outside of Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures. The amount is more than triple the figure offered in an existing scheme in place since 2019.

The increased payment per child is just one component of the government’s commitment to enticing young families to leave Tokyo. Families who relocate are already receiving up to nearly $23,000 in one-time financial support, with the possibility of receiving even more if they start a business.

Those who accept the money must live the provincial life for a minimum of five years, or they must repay the state.

Japan’s government is making efforts to deal with a shrinking and aging population, while also handling the large migration of many young people to major cities that has left rural regions desolate.

Many rural towns and villages have been emptied, their businesses starved of customers and available workers. The estimated glut of empty homes in Japan – houses that are frequently intentionally left unclaimed by heirs – is expected to reach 10 million by 2023.

So far, around 1,300 municipalities have already signed up to host migrating Tokyo citizens and have issued a number of sale pitches about rural charms to entice families.

But government data showed that fewer than 2,400 people have taken advantage of the relocation payment in fiscal 2021 – a number that amounts to a very tiny percentage of the 38 million population of Greater Tokyo.

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