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Ministry shifting middle-aged city dwellers to small cities

JIJI

Middle-aged employees in the nation’s top three metropolitan areas will be dispatched to smaller cities to help revitalize local economies under an innovative program being launched by the internal affairs ministry.

Making use of their expertise and personal connections, employees between 40 and 60 years of age at firms in and around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya might be able to head up tourist associations or other posts, sources said.

For the fiscal year ending March 2014, the ministry plans to send people to five cities, most with populations of 40,000 or more.

The government will disburse ¥5 million a year per head — ¥3.5 million in salaries and ¥1.5 million in transportation and other expenses. Their employers will make up the rest if salaries fall far short of earnings, the sources said.

Private-sector businesses are being challenged to find better ways to utilize their middle-aged employees, who were hired in large numbers during the late ’80s bubble economy, which imploded roughly in 1991.

For their part, smaller cities are suffering from a dearth of experienced personnel with knowledge about regional revitalization and are looking for outside help.

To help the cities, the ministry will start dispatching private-sector workers with specialized skills and contacts for an initial period of one to three years, the sources said.

The potential new assignments will include managing a nonprofit organization.

Travel agencies and securities firms also have shown interest in the program, the sources said.