Why Japan Is Paying Single Mothers to Move to the Countryside

Susie Armitage
June 6, 2018
PRI’s The World

“Tomoko Shinkai is on the front lines of Japan’s demographic decline. She works for the small city of Hamada, and it’s her job to get people to move there. It’s hard to imagine a better cheerleader for the place. When you ask her what people should know about her hometown, Shinkai says there are too many wonderful things to name. ‘Come and see it for yourself!’ she laughed.

Shinkai’s business card, which reads, ‘Residency and Marriage Promotion section,’ alludes to the demographic challenges Japan is facing. The government is trying to get people to pair off and have babies—as they are in increasingly short supply. A quarter of Japanese citizens are over 65. Births are below the replacement rate, and a limited immigration policy doesn’t help. The population is projected to shrink by almost a third by 2065.

With Japan’s small towns getting smaller, local governments are looking for creative ways to bring in new people, especially families with children.”

Continue reading at PRI.

Tomoko Shinkai (right) is shown with another one of the moms in the program, Mitsue Murakami. Credit: Susie Armitage/PRI

Ms. Armitage was a 2017 JCIE US-Japan Journalism Fellow.