The government said Tuesday that it aims to secure 2.3 million people over the five years from fiscal 2022, which starts next April, to promote digitalization of rural areas.

The government set a target of increasing the number of municipalities working on resolving regional issues — by utilizing digital technology — to 1,000 by fiscal 2024.

“We’ll promote digitalization to achieve tangible results in various fields such as education, medical care, agriculture and logistics at an early date,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a government meeting.

The government has earmarked a total of ¥5.7 trillion for digitalization programs, including subsidies to municipalities, under the fiscal 2021 supplementary budget and the fiscal 2022 regular budget plan, he said.

Specifically, the government plans to secure at least 10,000 people in fiscal 2022 to support elderly people and others who are not familiar with digital devices.

It aims to accelerate the development of communications infrastructure in rural areas, increasing the population coverage of 5G wireless networks from some 30% at present to 90% by fiscal 2023. A dozen regional data centers will be set up over some five years.

By making full use of digital technology, the government aims to narrow the gap between urban and rural areas and to correct the excessive concentration of people and jobs in Tokyo. It plans to come up with details of those plans in spring next year.

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