Living in Japan

How to qualify for subsidies to move from Tokyo to the Japanese countryside

The Japanese government wants people to move out of the greater Tokyo area to less populated regions of Japan, and they’ve set aside substantial funds to encourage us to do so.

A single person is eligible to receive up to ¥600,000 and a family up to ¥1 million in subsidies if they move from the greater Tokyo metropolitan region to a qualifying jurisdiction. There is an additional subsidy of up to ¥2 million if you start a business in the city or town you move to.

How to qualify for the subsidy

Foreign residents are eligible to apply for this subsidy provided that they also meet all the other conditions. You have to meet all three conditions below:

1. Currently living in or commuting to the Tokyo 23 Wards or Greater Tokyo Area

Who qualifies to apply?

In general, people who are currently living in the Tokyo 23 Wards or Greater Tokyo Area OR commuting to the Tokyo 23 Wards are eligible.

What is the Greater Tokyo Area?

Tokyo, including the Tokyo 23 Wards, and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa

Except for the following cities, towns and villages:

  • Tokyo: Hinohara Village, Okutama Town, Oshima Town, Toshima Village, Niijima Village, Kozushima Village, Miyake Village, Mikurajima Village, Hachijo Town, Aogashima Village, Ogasawara Village
  • Saitama Prefecture: Chichibu City, Hanno City, Honjo City, Tokigawa Town, Yokoze Town, Minano Town, Ogano Town, Higashi Chichibu Village, Kamikawa Town
  • Chiba Prefecture: Tateyama City, Asahi City, Katsuura City, Kamogawa City, Futtsu City, Isumi City, Minamiboso City, Tosho Town, Chonan Town, Otaki Town, Onjuku Town, Kyonan Town
  • Kanagawa Prefecture: Yamakita Town, Manazuru Town, Kiyokawa Village

This is because these municipalities are themselves considered “disadvantaged” areas in need of economic revitalization, so incentives are not provided for moving away from them.

Detailed residential/commuting rules for qualifying

  • You must have lived in the Tokyo 23 Wards or greater Tokyo area (excluding disadvantaged areas) OR have been commuting to the Tokyo 23 Wards for a total of five years or more in the ten years immediately preceding your move. You must also have lived or commuted in the Tokyo 23 Wards in the past year or more.
  • If you are qualifying as a commuter, you must have been been covered by unemployment insurance.
  • If you attended a university in the Tokyo 23 Wards and are employed at a company in the 23 Wards, you may count the years that you commuted as a student when calculating whether you meet the minimum five year requirement.

2. Move outside the greater Tokyo area OR to a qualifying jurisdiction in the greater Tokyo area

Which municipalities are participating in the subsidy system?

If you move to a qualifying jurisdiction that is participating in the subsidy system, you can qualify to apply for the subsidy.

Click here for a PDF list (in Japanese) of participating cities, towns, and villages.  In the PDF,

  • A dash — indicates that the municipality is excluded from the places that you can move from.
  • A circle ◯ indicates that the municipality does provide a subsidy for moving there.
  • A blank indicates that the municipality does not provide a subsidy for moving there.

When can I apply for the subsidy?

  • You should apply for the migration subsidy after you have lived in the jurisdiction for at least three months and within one year of moving there.
  • You must have the intention of continuing to live there for at least five years after you apply for the subsidy.

3. Work, telecommute or start a company in the municipality where you move

Continue working after you move

To qualify for the subsidy, you need to work for a small or medium-sized enterprise in the municipality where you’ve moved, to telecommute to your current job, or to start a new company.

You can meet this qualification by fulfilling anyone of the following:

1. Get a job at a small or medium-sized company in the municipality

Participating municipalities have set up job matching websites to help match candidates with employers or you can use a professional recruiting service to help in your job search.

2. Continue at your current job by telecommuting

The ability to qualify by telecommuting was just added in 2021.

3. Meet the requirements for recognition by the local municipality

You can also qualify if you are recognized by the local municipality as a person who is part of the “concerned population” or “related population” of the area. Each municipality has its own rules for how this is defined.

4. Use local entrepreneur support funds to start a company

To qualify under this condition you must have received a decision to receive entrepreneurial support funds from the local executive committee for your business within a year of moving to the municipality.

The subsidy, of up to ¥2 million, will be provided to help with up to half of the start-up costs of the business.

Businesses should be focused on local economic revitalization. For example, child-rearing support, restaurants that use local products, and community development.


Lead photo: Mount Nasu and rice field, Shirakawa City, Fukushima via iStock 181473339

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