In a creative effort to address population decline, the town of Kainan in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture is offering financial incentives for people with the specific surname ‘Suzuki’ to relocate. Individuals with the surname ‘Suzuki’ are eligible for ¥1 million (approximately $6,940), and an additional ¥1 million will be provided for each child under 18 years of age. The town initiated this campaign in 2021 to attract residents and counteract the declining population.
‘Suzuki’ is Japan’s second most common surname, and Kainan holds a special connection as the birthplace of the name. The town aimed to tap into the estimated 750,000 Suzukis living in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, hoping to entice them to relocate. However, despite the financial incentives, the town has yet to attract a single Suzuki resident, according to reports.
Kainan’s initiative reflects a broader trend in Japan, where various prefectures are grappling with a declining population. In 2022, the population of Japanese nationals experienced a record decline of 800,000 to reach 125.4 million. Concurrently, the number of foreigners in Japan reached a record high of nearly three million. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research predicts a further decline, estimating Japan’s population to fall to 87 million by 2070.
Japan has witnessed a consistent decrease in the number of births for six consecutive years, with 2021 seeing a 3.5% decline from the previous year. In 2021, there were just 811,604 births, marking the lowest level on record, as reported by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. The financial incentives offered by Kainan represent a creative approach to address the broader demographic challenges faced by many regions in Japan.