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Though the hollowing-out of population in regional areas in Japan has become a major issue for the central government, it’s been a problem for regional governments for more than three decades. Twenty years ago there was a popular promotional method called “I-turn,” devised as a supplement to the “U-turn” movement. This latter scheme lured people who lived in cities back to their hometowns. The I-Turn scheme, however, targeted people who grew up in cities but perhaps had some romantic longing for rural life.

At the core of both plans were employment fairs, which were held in major urban centers by employment information agencies with booths manned by local governments promoting potential job opportunities and emphasizing carefree commutes and stress-free working conditions.

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