• By The Financial District


The northern Japan prefecture of Akita has been calling for residents outside the region to move to the rural area as the option of working remotely has become prevalent amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Hiroshi Takano reported for Mainichi Shimbun.

The move to promote remote work in Akita has been made as challenges posed by the heavy population of the greater Tokyo area have surfaced due to the pandemic. The Akita Prefectural Government estimates that the promotion of remote work will create a new option for people to live in rural areas while working for a company in or near the capital, and hopes that it will act as a countermeasure against the prefecture's declining population -- a significant challenge for the region.

Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake appeared in a full-page advertisement in The Nikkei business daily in early October. The ad included the catchphrase, "Don't you want to put an end to sacrificing your daily life for work?" Through the ad, the prefectural government aims to promote its "Remote work in Akita" project among individuals affiliated with companies. That same month, the prefectural government conducted a survey targeting some 4,000 companies, including those listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, about their views regarding employees moving to regional areas for remote work, and the possibility of having them work from Akita. Responses were obtained from 559 companies, and among them, 63 answered that they considered remote work from Akita a possibility, according to the prefectural government's section that promotes relocation to and settlement in the prefecture.

The prefectural government also uploaded a promotional video on YouTube where the famous Hachiko dog statue, placed in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station, tells viewers that it decided to work remotely from its birthplace of Akita. The video highlights the merits of living in Akita, including a nice environment for raising and educating children, low residential land prices, and the ability to enjoy seasonal leisure activities. In addition to the remote working project, the prefectural government has included related expenses for a program that promotes "workation," where employees can do their jobs while enjoying vacations at tourist spots or resorts, in its supplementary budget draft submitted to the prefectural assembly during an extraordinary session in July.

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