Four years into the COVID-19 pandemic, more city dwellers, who previously entertained the idea of relocating to the countryside, may be giving it a second thought.

The spread of remote work initially made moving to rural areas from densely populated areas like Tokyo a viable option, and the capital, with a population of roughly 14 million, did see more people moving out.

But the balance between those relocating to Tokyo and those leaving it widened again last year, accelerating the capital's population growth and potentially boding ill for the Japanese government's goal of equalizing population flows into and out of the metropolitan area by fiscal 2027.