National

'Luckiest city' offers lottery tickets for donations

Kyodo

Are you feeling lucky?

Donors who give cash to the city of Ube in Yamaguchi Prefecture are being rewarded with unconventional thank-you gifts: lottery tickets.

Since November, Ube has been sending stacks of tickets to well-wishers who make a contribution to city coffers through the state-sponsored “furusato nozei” (hometown tax deduction) program.

Ube is considered the jackpot capital of Japan. Statistically, its residents seem to be luckier at playing the lottery.

Despite a modest population of slightly over 170,000, in the past six years the city has recorded a slew of national jackpots and a total of more than ¥2.9 billion from tickets sold from its lottery stands.

Last May, a ticket-holder from Ube secured a ¥636 million grand prize in the “Loto 7” national lottery.

Under the state-sponsored tax deduction program, people can donate cash to a municipality of their choice. To compete for donations, cities often reward donors with a gift such as a package of local delicacies. Donors can also claim a proportional deduction in their residential and income taxes.

Ube city has traditionally sent donors treats such as a bottle of local sake. But since November, it has added lottery tickets to the lineup. A ¥10,000 donation secures 10 lottery tickets.

The tickets are bought directly from one of the city’s luckiest stands — the one in downtown Kotoshiba — which has yielded jackpots three years in a row.

“In just the past month, we have received donations amounting to half our usual annual total,” said one city official.

On Dec. 5 the city organized a bus tour for 20 tourists which took them to some of its luckiest spots — including the Kotoshiba lottery stand.

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