• Kyodo


As part of its comprehensive strategy to combat population decline and revitalize Japan’s regions, the government will aim to create 300,000 regional jobs by 2020 to stem the flow of young workers to Tokyo, according to a final five-year policy plan obtained by Kyodo News on Thursday.

The plan also aims to move more workers into permanent jobs from temporary ones, and to reduce the number of underemployed “freeters” to 1.24 million nationwide by 2020, down 580,000 from 2013.

The strategy is set to be adopted at Saturday’s extraordinary Cabinet session along with a long-term vision of Japan’s population as of 2060. Policies are then expected to be reflected in the government’s fiscal 2015 budget and in upcoming revisions to the tax system.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated he intends to implement “policies of another dimension” to revitalize Japan’s regions, but many of those in the five-year plan are rehashed versions of existing government policies and their feasibility remains unclear.

The job creation target aims to provide secure employment in the regions to stop the annual net flow of about 100,000 workers below age 35 from the regions and into Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

Under the plan, an annual increase of 100,000 regional jobs in 2020 would be reached by starting with 20,000 new jobs in fiscal 2015 and widening the target in annual increments of 20,000 jobs.

The government is also considering establishing in fiscal 2016 a system of new subsidies to local governments that set their own targets for business creation, while deciding by the end of next March whether to allow local governments the authority to rezone farmland for other uses.

The long-term population vision projects that Japan will be able to keep its population at about 100 million in 2060 if the fertility rate rises to 1.8 children born per woman by 2030 and to 2.07 by 2040. The rate was 1.43 last year.

Under these projections, the population is forecast to level out at around 90 million in 2090.

The population was about 126.43 million as of January this year, down for the fifth straight year, and has been estimated to fall as low as 86.74 million by 2060 if the decline continues at the present rate.

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