• Kyodo

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The government will pledge Wednesday to promote regional revitalization by preparing a list of 10,000 workers interested in moving to rural areas and working at local firms, government sources have said.

By compiling the list of workers that could join local companies and promoting teleworking from rural areas, the government will "rectify" the Tokyo-centric economy and population to help revive regional areas, according to a draft of its annual economic policy guideline.

The chance to move to a rural area has been attracting greater attention in Japan, with more people working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic and high numbers of infections reported in the populous Tokyo metropolitan area.

Some major firms have relocated their headquarters to regions away from the Tokyo area, including staffing firm Pasona Group Inc. and entertainment agency Amuse Inc.

The government plans to expand its existing list of people interested in moving to rural areas, which was prepared by the Regional Economy Vitalization Corporation of Japan, a public-private investment fund, according to a policy blueprint to be presented at a key government economic and fiscal policy panel meeting later in the day.

The government is also set to "start discussions soon" to set up a new agency in charge of issues surrounding children, such as child poverty, abuse and bullying — a policy Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has appeared keen to promote.

An "administrative organization" is needed to comprehensively deal with the challenges related to children, and to eliminate the policy sectionalism, the draft said.

To curb declines in Japan's birthrate, a package of supportive measures will be compiled by the end of this year, with quantitative goals set for each policy, it added.

Regarding the fiscal 2022 budget, the draft policy guideline said Suga's signature policies in four fields — regional revitalization, children, green society and digitalization — would see "priority in the distribution of resources."

To achieve the country's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the government will uphold the principle of making it a "top priority" to promote as much renewable energy as possible, while trying to minimize the burden on people caused by such efforts, according to the draft.

The government is maintaining its stance on restarting nuclear power plants, while reducing its reliance on nuclear power as much as possible. Many plants remain offline in Japan under stricter safety regulations implemented following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Along with the government's annual economic growth strategy, which focuses on enhancing domestic development and the production of cutting-edge semiconductors, the draft guideline is expected to be approved by the Cabinet later this month.

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