Business

Japan's local governments launch 'workation' alliance to boost regional revitalization and work-style reform

JIJI

Looking to boost regional revitalization and work-style reform, local governments across Japan have entered an alliance to promote the “workation” concept of telecommuting from resorts and other vacation spots.

The alliance brings together seven prefectural and 58 municipal governments to spur migration from urban to rural areas through “workations,” a combination of “work” and “vacation.”

The alliance’s inaugural meeting was held Monday in Tokyo. Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka was appointed its leader.

“Workations will be a proactive option for work-style reform,” Nisaka said, expressing hopes for a new business model that involves “something more than sightseeing trips but less than permanent migration.”

Wakayama Prefecture took the initiative with Nagano Prefecture to form the alliance as an increasing number of companies are expected to adopt telecommuting ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Wakayama was the first prefecture to run a workation project, launching it in fiscal 2017.

The project is designed to expand a “related population,” or people who get in regular touch with areas within Wakayama while living outside the prefecture.

The national government regards the concept of related population as a new pillar of its efforts to reverse the over-concentration of economic and other activities in Tokyo.

Getting more people living in urban cities involved with rural areas is expected to lead to migration growth in these areas and help them solve local problems arising from the shrinking population.

Meanwhile, companies are increasingly interested in workations as they are looking to allow employees to adopt more flexible work styles, such as having side jobs.

Local governments in the alliance will focus on developing their workation environments by leveraging local agricultural, tourism and other resources.