Business

Cabinet OKs tax breaks for firms to move headquarters from Tokyo

by Masaaki Iwamoto and Kyoko Shimodoi

Bloomberg

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved plans to give tax breaks to companies that move their headquarters out of Tokyo as Japan seeks to revitalize regional economies.

Under a bill that will be put to the Diet, companies will receive a deduction on their taxes equal to 7 percent of the amount they spend building a new headquarters outside the greater Tokyo area, excluding Osaka and Nagoya. The bill also offers tax deductions for hiring employees to work in the new offices.

Tokyo accounts for nearly one-fifth of the country’s economic output and more than 1,700 listed companies have their headquarters in the capital, according to Urban Research Institute Corp. Abe’s government wants to create 300,000 new jobs in regional areas by 2020.

“Attractive jobs for young people in regional areas is the only way to prevent people from gathering in Tokyo,” said Makoto Yonekawa, senior consultant at Daiwa Institute of Research. “This policy is a step in the right direction, but how effective it will be in halting concentration in Tokyo is still unclear.”

The Cabinet approved the bill Tuesday, according to the prime minister’s office. A date has not been set for its introduction to the Diet, where a coalition led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has a majority.

The policy will help companies such as YKK Group, a closely held maker of zippers and fasteners, which is already moving part of its headquarters to the city of Kurobe, in Toyama Prefecture.

So far YKK has relocated 80 employees from Tokyo and plans to move a further 140 by March next year, according to company spokesman Kazuhiro Kumagai.

About 40 percent of people living in Tokyo said they are considering, or would be prepared to consider, moving out of Tokyo, according to a survey conducted by the prime minister’s office in August.

The biggest concern among those surveyed is finding a job in regional areas, the survey showed.

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