TOKYO — Relocation consultations in regional areas of greater Tokyo hit a record high of 49,514 cases in 2021, reportedly due to the spread of telecommuting and a review of lifestyles amid the coronavirus pandemic, announced the non-profit Furusato Kaiki Shien Center.
The Tokyo-based incorporated non-profit organization supports people moving from the capital region to rural areas. While the number of those looking to relocate to local areas has increased in recent years, changing work styles and lifestyles amid the prolonged pandemic have seemingly spurred the trend.
In 2020, the number of such consultations fell to 38,320 cases partly due to the two-month closure of the assistance center during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The following year, however, the figure hit a new high of 49,514 cases, slightly surpassing the 49,401 cases recorded in 2019.
Fumihiko Inagaki, Deputy Secretary General of the Support Center, commented: “In addition to the increased practice of teleworking giving rise to a new layer of people moving to the suburbs, the coronavirus pandemic has also encouraged some people who were already skeptical as for living in Tokyo to move.”
Demands from women and young people regarding relocation to the regions are also increasing, according to the center. While women accounted for around 30% of all consultations in 2015, this figure has increased each year to reach 45.4% in 2021.
“Before, there was this atmosphere of relocation (to the countryside) perceived as a man’s dream life, but consultations of single women are also on the rise these days,” Inagaki said. “I have the impression that there are more and more people who are interested in concrete links with others and in community life in the regions.”
By age group, consultations of people in their 40s and under accounted for more than 70% in 2021, with those under 20 accounting for a record 21.9%. In addition to those wishing to return to their hometowns, many young investigators said they wanted to “help local communities”, according to the center.
By relocation area, Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan remained the top choice for the second consecutive year among people who contacted the center, followed by Fukuoka Prefecture in southwestern Japan and the prefecture from Yamanashi in central Japan. As in 2020, the Kanto region prefectures also continued to enjoy popularity in 2021, with Gunma landing in fifth place, Tochigi ninth and Kanagawa 10th.
(Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)