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The government is moving to encourage people to relocate to less-populated regions while continuing to work for companies based in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Taking advantage of the spread of teleworking amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government aims to reduce the concentration of the population in the Tokyo area.

Teleworking will help people move to other parts of the country, said Hiroya Masuda, president and CEO of Japan Post Holdings Co., who heads an advisory panel to the government.

“The need to change jobs has been the greatest bottleneck in promoting migration to the countryside,” said Masuda, whose panel in April proposed measures to promote teleworking in regional areas.

A Cabinet Office survey conducted in December showed that 46% of respondents interested in moving to regional areas cited concerns about jobs and income.

But interest in moving has been growing due to rising COVID-19 cases in metropolitan areas.

Tokyo continued to see a net population outflow for the eighth straight month in February, according to data from the internal affairs ministry.

The government sees this trend as an opportunity to promote the flow of people away from the Tokyo area.

It has set aside ¥10 billion for a subsidy program for municipalities to use to help companies establish satellite offices in areas away from the capital.

The government plans to establish a one-stop web portal for municipalities, companies and people considering moving.

It also aims to establish an award system in fiscal 2021, which ends in March next year, for companies that promote teleworking.

“Migration without changing jobs is a new idea that allows people to continue work they have in Tokyo while living in regional areas,” a Cabinet Office official said. “We’ll work to give a boost” to the movement, the official added.

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