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The government plans to ease its requirements for subsidies to people who move to places outside the Tokyo area in order to take new jobs, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Despite the government’s target of providing the subsidies to 3,984 individuals by the end of fiscal 2019, they had only been used in 43 cases as of the end of October.

Currently, recipients must have lived within or commuted to the Tokyo area for five consecutive years or more in order to receive the subsidies of up to ¥1 million.

Following the change, the subsidies will be available to people who have lived or worked in Tokyo for a total of at least five years in the last 10-year period, including those who have returned to the Tokyo area after living elsewhere and are relocating out of the area again.

The change will be reflected in the government’s budget for fiscal 2020, which starts next April. For the purposes of the subsidies, the Tokyo area is considered to include Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, as well as the 23 wards of the capital and the rest of the metropolitan area.

The subsidy program was launched in fiscal 2019 with the aim of reducing the concentration of the population in Tokyo and addressing workforce gaps in other areas.

When people moving with families find jobs at companies selected by the prefectures to which they plan to relocate, they receive the subsidy of ¥1 million. Single people relocating receive a subsidy of ¥600,000.

The government will also expand the scope of companies eligible for the subsidies, from the current rules that require firms to have capital of ¥1 billion or less to allowing participation by those with local government permission that have capital of up to some ¥5 billion.

The government hopes that the easing of the requirements will encourage greater use of the subsidies and promote relocation from the Tokyo area, the sources said. It plans to keep the subsidy program in place through fiscal 2024.

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