More people moved out of Tokyo than in for the third month in a row in September, apparently due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in urban areas.
According to a report on population drift for September, based on the basic registry of residents and released Tuesday by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, 30,644 people moved out of Tokyo that month. This was up 12.5 percent from September last year.
In contrast, 27,006 people moved into the capital, down 11.7 percent. The number moving out of Tokyo outpaced those moving in by 3,638, although the gap contracted from the 4,514 deficit seen in August.
The number of people who moved out of the capital outpaced those who moved in for the first time in May, the month when a nationwide state of emergency was declared. It was the first time since similar polls began in 2013 for more people to leave Tokyo than enter.
After the national state of emergency was lifted, those who moved into the capital outnumbered those who moved out in June, but the trend reversed again in the following months of July, August, and September.
Tokumi Odagiri, a professor at Meiji University and a scholar on theories of regional policy, said: “A change is about to take place in the trend of unipolar concentration of the population in Tokyo. The trend in which those leaving Tokyo outnumbered those entering was somewhat mitigated in September, probably because new college students and others moved into Tokyo as some universities in urban areas resumed their face-to-face classes on campus.”
Examining the population drift in the greater Tokyo area — made up of Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures — the number of people who moved out of the area outpaced those who entered in July and August, but this trend reversed in September.
Elsewhere in the country, more people left than entered the greater Nagoya area from July through September, and the same trend was seen in the greater Osaka area in August and September.
The list of top destinations for people moving out of the capital comprises areas in the suburbs of Tokyo, such as Kanagawa Prefecture, and other major cities, including Osaka and Fukuoka. According to the report on the population drift, Kanagawa topped the list of prefectures that have accepted a large number of former Tokyoites, taking in 7,389 people. It was followed by Saitama with 5,918, Chiba with 4,393, Osaka with 1,313, and Aichi with 924.
The prefecture of Ibaraki, which ranked sixth on the same list, accepted 892 people from Tokyo. Local governments in Ibaraki Prefecture are promoting themselves to Tokyo residents, for example pointing out that they are located only an hour’s train ride from central Tokyo.
The central government hopes that the unipolar concentration of the population in Tokyo, a longstanding issue, can be corrected by promoting workstyle reform.
An official of the government body that serves as the control tower for promoting regional revitalization said: “It’s important to enable people to migrate to regional areas in a sustainable way. Things must be changed so that people can continue doing the work they’d do in Tokyo even if they’re in regional areas.”
The government body plans to work to support the establishment of satellite offices in regional areas and the fostering of human resources in digital technologies.