In an attempt to reverse the overconcentration of the population in the greater Tokyo region, the national government wants 10,000 residents to move to the countryside each year, a lofty goal for a megalopolis that saw a net inflow of over 80,000 residents in 2021.

The population of the Tokyo metropolitan area alone reached 14,044,538 in November 2022, an increase of 3,806 residents from the previous month. It has grown consistently for the past 8 months. 

Under the ‘Digital Garden City National Plan’, the government is aiming to reach a net zero change in population in greater Tokyo by 2027, essentially halting the growth of the capital and surrounding prefectures. The main points of the plan are to provide support for start-ups in regional Japan, encourage telework, and improve digital adoption by local municipalities in regional areas.

Tokyo residents may not be entirely keen to leave. Back in November of 2020, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare admitted that as many as 190 people were paid to attend regional migration seminars held in Tokyo by various regional local governments over a four-month span in 2017. As many as 70% of the attendees at the seminars were paid seat fillers. 

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike suggested the policy was inward-looking and ignored the need to attract global skilled talent, and is expecting its effects to be limited.

Kyodo News, December 16, 2022.
The Nikkei Shimbun, December 16, 2022.
NHK, December 16, 2022.
The Tokyo SHimbun, November 19, 2020.

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