Gorgeous but remote region struggles to bring people in.

Tucked away in the south-western island of Kyushu, Miyazaki Prefecture has a lot to boast. It’s home to the KonMari Method and the mummified remains of a mythical creature to name but a few of its unique charms. And yet, like many rural parts of Japan, it is suffering from the problem of population decline.

Also, like many other rural areas, they’ve begun promotional measures to help draw in fresh blood. Along with some quirky ads that got national attention, Miyazaki began a campaign offering annual “support payments” of up to one million yen (US$9,100) for families or 600,000 yen ($5,500) for singles willing to relocate there and work in one of its companies.

It’s a juicy incentive to say the least, and after applications begun in late October of last year, the response has been as terrible as one could imagine. In a span of about two months, not a single person applied to move to Miyazaki under the program.

So how come no one is even interested to apply? Sure, one million yen isn’t enough to upend one’s entire life, but for anyone who happens to be looking for a fresh start these days, it’s certainly an attractive offer.

Reps from Miyazki have admitted that certain strings attached from the offer have made it less attractive. For example, in order to qualify you must “have had a steady job outside the prefecture for five years before moving into Miyazaki.”

Also, in order to qualify for the full amount advertised, applicants are expected to work in either the farming or fishery fields. However, those conditions actually aren’t uncommon among these types of offers and are used to screen out people more interested in easy money that genuinely making a life for themselves in a new place.

And therein lies the problem. Areas all over Japan are offering similar monetary incentives, but they are closer to more populated areas. Koshu, Yamanashi is one example, which is only 121 kilometers from the heart of Tokyo, but has the exact same deal.

▼ And they got wine!

Factoring the cost of relocating a whole family, the financial difference between moving to either Koshu and Miyazaki is considerable. It’s simple economics really, and though the Miyazaki officials didn’t acknowledge it, the fact was definitely not lost on netizens.

“I feel bad for their problem, but I can’t change my life for two or three month’s salary.”
“One million yen isn’t much after moving expenses.”
“They should try 10 million, just to see.”
“I might do it for 100 million.”
“One million yen to live in a depopulated area for the rest of my life?”
“Unless it’s one million annually, that’s not possible.”
“I’m surprised no one wants to live in the countryside. Everyone just stays indoors on the Internet all the time anyway. You can do that anywhere.”
“Miyazaki’s a nice place!”

Nevertheless, Miyazaki officials apologized for the hurdles and promise find ways to make their offer more accessible. They also said that they’ve received a lot of interest from outside businesses, which could end up being more lucrative than inviting individuals in the long run anyway.

In the end, it’s important to remember that none of this is any indication that something is wrong with Miyazaki. All over Japan everyone has a lot of love for this charming and stunningly beautiful coastal prefecture. It’s just that no one’s ready to take that love to the next level and move in with it.

Source: NHK News Web, Hachima Kiko, Koshu City
Top image: YouTube/Miyazaki Tegetege Tsushin
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