Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign


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Hi Blog. As Japan’s depopulation proceeds and the countryside continues to empty out, we have seen ruralities offering FREE land if people will only build, move, and live there.

Now we have another place offering even more generous terms. From The Japan Times, May 25, 2015:


[…] The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.

The generous offer — which is temporarily on hold while officials rethink the conditions — includes monthly grants for the first three years of residence, ranging from ¥85,000 a month for a single person to ¥100,000 for married couples. Also on offer are three-bedroom houses for rent at low prices, and subsidies for child delivery.

Sweet. Locals have been trying to lure people here since 1990. That is, until the wrong kind of people began inquiring:


[…] Of all the emails the village received in the two-week period between the end of April and mid-May, 90 percent came from Serbians, Croatians and Brazilians, a local official said Monday, adding that the village office has also received more than a dozen phone calls from foreigners.

The official said that eventually, for various reasons, the village decided not to accept any of the applicants. Most who applied gave up on their plans to relocate after they were discouraged by the reality of the situation, or had only been looking for an easy escape from the pressure of daily life.

“People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said, adding that the language barrier may lead to problems of communication.

“It’s a small village. There is no hospital and finding a job here is not a piece of cake,” he said, adding that most people seemed discouraged after learning about the hurdles they might face.

“People here can take advantage of the bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes, and it’s a good place to live a quiet life,” the official said, describing the more appealing aspects of starting a new life there…

Oh. Suddenly, life there is tough. So tough they’ll turn people away, sight unseen. If those people happen to be foreign.

How open-minded. I assume the next argument will be that if the place becomes overrun with foreigners, they will vote to secede from Japan. Seriously, this argument has been made before.

So allow me to award the Village of Mishima in Kagoshima Prefecture a coveted Dejima Award, granted only to those who display eye-blinkingly stupefying bigotry and closed-mindedness that defies all logic, reason, and entreaty. We’ve only granted five of these before in the twenty years has been in existence, so Mishima is in exceptional company. May the mindsets you display die out before all the people do in your isolated little speck of the world. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Entire source article visible at


17 comments on “ Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this futile attempt to save a rural Japanese community.

    Let’s have a look at the ‘pros’ of relocating;
    1. A quiet life.
    2. Beautiful nature.

    And the ‘cons’;
    1. No jobs.
    2. No easy access to schools and hospitals.
    3. 3 hundred + octogenarians who need support.

    With that pros and cons list, you’d think they’d be happy to get anyone! But wait! They have conditions;
    1. Must have been born there.
    2. Must know the local area.

    So basically, they just want people who moved away because of all the cons to come back. Outsiders, even Japanese? No thank you!

    This is why 10 years after starting the offer, it isn’t working.
    But hey, this is Japan, where no one learns at school to carry out critical analysis, so with a complete lack of understanding as to why thier program to entice people back is failing, they will just double-down on the existing fail and ‘ganbaru’ harder.

    Until they are all gone.

  • How do these kinds of “revitalisation” schemes even work, practically ? What kind of people are they looking for here ? Besides 100% pure yamato, of course – I mean they’d readily admit it’s a dying community somewhere out in the boonies, with no jobs, no hospitals, no nothing. Oh, besides “bountiful nature”, which doesn’t pay any bills, tho. The only people who could possibly live in this economic/cultural no-opportunity wasteland are pensioners, of which they already have enough. They want people under 55, families with kids ? How is that possible, if the parents can’t find work there and the children are dying of boredom (and get the hell out again, anyway, when they’re of age) ?
    Or some kind of magic unicorn self-employed artists/writers, who can afford to live there for some kind of “romantical” reasons.

    Hell, the last paragraph really is the revealing moneyshot:
    [“The village says it wants to receive applications only from people seriously interested. “It may be a good opportunity for those who were born here and know the region and are willing to return to contribute to the local community,” the Mishima official said.”]
    So it’s not even just ANY japanese, no you also have to be the right kind of local japanese too (exactly the kind of people who deserted that sinking ship in the first place, and they’re not coming back). Because (and this is the flipside of that fine “neighborly” rural lifestyle) insider-outsider discrimination also goes on between japanese, not just with foreigners. Debito did some articles on that also. Better to live in a big city, where everyone’s a stranger at least, and not in a small inbred village where you’re still after some decades just the “new guy”.

    I’ll give them one thing, though. At least they’re just doing a useless grants-program that no one takes. Other communities have tried to “revitalize” through much more megalomaniac go-for-broke White-Elephant-projects, which are as hilarious as they are sad. Makes for great Urb-Ex now, though.

  • Hi Debito:

    Oh the irony…

    TV ads to promote Japan abroad

    TV ads to promote Japan abroad
    May 27, 2015, The Yomiuri Shimbun
    The Foreign Ministry plans to better utilize TV commercial messages to be aired overseas so that other countries will receive more information about Japan’s contribution to the international community.

    After commercial messages aired on CNN from March to early May received high public praise, the ministry realized the value of TV commercial messages in galvanizing public opinion in the international community.

    By the end of this fiscal year, the ministry will produce a number of new TV commercial messages to be aired on TV stations in other countries.

    As this year is the 70th year since the end of World War II, the ministry aims to counter the increasingly fierce anti-Japanese propaganda from China and South Korea over issues relating to historical perceptions.

    At CNN, two commercial messages were aired. One, titled “Nation Building in the Post War Era,” mentioned how Japan has contributed to economic growth, peace-building and other elements in Asia. The other, titled “To make Women Shine,” shows how Japan is helping women advance in society in developing countries.

    Each explained the efforts by Japan using graphics and video for about two minutes in English.

    The clips were aired from March 14 to 27 in North America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They were aired again in North America to coincide with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States from late April to early May.

    The ministry examined via CNN how widely the video clips were viewed, and it was estimated that about 83 million people saw at least one of the video clips.

    The ministry also found that about 90 percent of the viewers had a favorable impression about Japan.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ JK #3

    Those ads ought to be a laugh! They will either leave the viewer thinking ‘WTF? Japan is so backwards’, or will inspire the ire of China and S. Korea who will use the ads to draw more negative attention to the kind of things Abe wishes would just go away, like history, and working women, and discrimination, and stuff.

    @ Enginerd #2

    Total nail on the head post there! I absolutely agree. The village (like many others) is dying due to the institutional structures that Japan has put in place for farmers and agriculture, combined with an obsessive need to centralize everything in as few big cities as possible. Abe hasn’t used his 3rd arrow even after 2 years in office, and it looks like institutional reform will never come. Hence these communities will decline to extinction. After all, they don’t want to accept change, but the status quo is what’s killing them!

    It’s a microcosm of Japan.
    As the saying goes; ‘If you want things to stay the same, things will have to change’.
    The Japanese are so averse to change, they’d rather die out.

    And this is an important point;
    It’s like politics. People always talk about Japanese voter apathy, but I suspect that it’s just an unwillingness to accept change on any scale. They want things to be better, but only if they don’t have to change to make that happen. This is probably why Abenomics (remember the last time you heard that?) was embraced; it was ‘change’ without having to change anything. Like the story of the village above, it failed.

  • Umm and exactly where are they sourcing the funds to pay for these subsidies? 500k up front, 100k a month for 36 months. Grand total 4,100,000 yen for a family to live there for 3 years. Who ends up paying for this?

  • Disgusting… the dying cry of a village that deserves to fade into nothingness.

    There comes a point where I almost want to see Japan to fall into total obscurity and suffer from behavior akin to this. Then I remember that those pushing these policies will likely be dead in ten years, and it seems that it simply their last attempt to have Japan die with them.

    I do hope those brilliant and wonderful young people of Japan get out and seek better options while they can, and carve their own path through start-ups, and initiatives that break the curve. Well, I hope…

  • “People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said’

    I’m going to play Devil’s advocate – this island village put out a BIG bait to get people. Their goal wasn’t to institute a new immigration policy – it was to get city Japanese people back to their island.

    I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, because it’s obvious they just bit off more than they could chew. Giving massive sums of money to Tokyo-ites and helping them adjust to island life was going to be hard enough – but giving massive sums of money to a random immigrant, and helping him and his family adjust? That’s just…leaps and bounds beyond what they were expecting.

    They probably had an idea of what they would say and do with the Tokyo people – they had no plan in place for non-Japanese people.

    This is a village on an island. Not Osaka. Not Tokyo. They weren’t saying, “No foreigners welcome,” they were saying, “Holy shit, this was actually not a good plan at all.”

    I’m saying this as someone who lived in a town of 3000 in the deepest inaka of my prefecture – perhaps the deepest inaka of the whole country. It was AWFUL. I was unhappy, miserable, depressed.

    The Japanese government thinks that scattering JETs around the archipelago without any training or education is a good idea, but I can tell you – it’s NOT. Giving a bunch of money to a random immigrant and plopping him down on an island in the middle of nowhere is NOT a good idea.

    Frankly, we just don’t know enough to be able to tell if this was blatant racism, or just a village leader walking back on a stupid plan. If a qualified, fluent-in-Japanese, long-term immigrant (who also happens to be good at farming) applies, and is rejected, then, yeah, we can cry racism.

    But this?

    And don’t get me wrong. Japan, as a nation, is not and never has been threatened by immigrants. Tokyo, Osaka, no one in Japan is in ANY danger of “losing their culture” due to mass immigration.

    But we have to remember that a lot of these tiny islands aren’t actually “Japanese culture” – they are minorities in their own way – I highly doubt the people on that islands are the ones benefiting from Abenomics, you know? The people on that island aren’t the pampered elite, and there are plenty of (local, Japanese) threats to their way of life that they need to consider.

    Just…give this story some time to develop before pulling the racism card. Let’s see some qualified immigrants apply for their program before we judge. If they turn away a qualified person, then, yeah, it’s racism. But we don’t know that these applicants were qualified, and it sure sounds like most of these non-Japanese applicants were just people looking for free money.

    — Well, if you turn them away BEFORE even assessing their qualifications, well, doesn’t that count as something exclusionary? Further, I doubt villagers asked for many qualifications for applications if they came from Wajin. Would you accuse Wajin applicants similarly as just looking for free money? Somehow I doubt it. The Devil you are advocating and benefit-doubting for lurks in those double standards within your advocacy logic.

  • “…“People here can take advantage of the bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes, and it’s a good place to live a quiet life,”…”

    So, it is a nice place, you must come….enjoy the peace and quiet. But…

    “…“People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,”…”

    Well i have just imaged beautiful landscapes the nature and a good place to live a quiet life. So, either the image they note of being so dreamy is incorrect and false, or……oh hang on…quiet dreamy, ahh..just like the elderly dream of days gone by with no interference or johnny foreigner walking past their door. Perfect place to retire then eh?

    Oh…and then:

    “…“It’s a small village. There is no hospital and finding a job here is not a piece of cake,”…”
    Perfect for for the kids then…oh no wait…they’ll just die waiting for emergency services after falling out of the beautiful tree and injuring themselves in the beautiful landscapes and nature trails.

    Great PR 🙂

  • Just had a few nice long talks with them. They are now properly scared of the upcoming lawsuit which they will lose for blatant unconstitutional discrimination. See, unlike private folks, public workers ARE properly limited by the constitution. And the constitution of Japan states that public workers can NOT limit applicants based on gender, race, nor AGE. Oops, which means the 55 year agelimitation is illegal according to the constitution of Japan. So in addition to the nationality discrimination and the race discrimination (both of which will be harder to prove, due to that not having been put into writing) the village officials and 村長 大山 辰夫 are now aware that the 55 year age limitation was illegal from the moment it was put into writing and continues to be a violation of the constitution every day it remains on their home page. By the way, 9 people received the funds last year, and this year they were planning on giving these funds to 7 applicants (until, that is, they received 190 e-mails from “90 percent gaikokujin” and decided based on that to stop the program and not accept ANY applicants.) Suddenly, the village no longer needs new taxpayers. Idiots. They should have simply written, “We will select 7 applicants who will pay more in taxes than they receive in tax benefits.” That would have been safe. But nope, they messed up with their various -isms (ageism, racism, nationalism), and the court will make them pay. Anyway, they are currently sweating the chance of me and my Kokkaigin cousin-in-law submitting the court documents which will lead to a sure penalty due to the unconstitutional age limitation being documented in writing. 🙂

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Chester #7

    Ok, so you don’t want to call it racism. Did you read the article? They don’t even want Japanese ‘from Tokyo’ as you stated, they want (and I’m quoting them here);

    1. People who were born here.
    2. People who know the local area.

    That isn’t racism, it’s extreme xenophobia.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    >[…] The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.

    Geez, this just sounds like language crafted for Labor Ministry’s work visa scheme to lure nikkei workers from the late 1980s. Amazing how the prefectural government promotes their shabby, isolated island for relocation after retirement but fails to provide information about local environment.

    Exclusionary? Yes.
    Misleading? Quite.
    Absurd? Even more.

    This one well deserves Dejima Award.

  • Really? In Tsuwano, Shimane they want people to move there too.
    But they said no one over 40 may apply.
    People can get a house with low rent and help finding a job.
    This was posted on Japan Today.

  • Baudrillard says:

    100,000 yen for expenses isnt even that much these days-thats the price of an air ticket (not that they want anyone flying in from overseas, they have made that much clear). So you get a calf (giggle, sounds like a scene from “Borat”) or 500,000 yen-but what to do when that runs out as there are surely no jobs there at all.

    But lets not forget the “bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes”-which of course cost them nothing, it all sounds like Abe’s “beautiful Japan”…

    So you (are paying to) come for the Japan “experience”. There is no real money in it.

    How long do you have to stay before you can leave again? Or do they “force” you into staying there “for life” in return for 500,000 yen.

    Wow, sounds like a great deal (sarcasm). A bit like the “trainee” program. One suspects that they hope that rich J-retirees will come and spend money there, putting more money in than they take out.

    Dream on.

  • As everybody above already noted, they are doing it the wrong way. Institutional racism aside (this is Japan after all, nothing surprising), I am surprised they haven’t thought why nobody wants to move there even with subsidies. They should think first about identifying a few areas for economic growth and favor the establishment of new businesses, which will bring tax income and residents. In remote areas, the only businesses I could think off are: agriculture, tourism (eco-tourism, B&B lodging, etc.), internet business (small internet/technology startups can be established almost anywhere in the world).

  • Debito, I think I made my point badly.

    Japan has undergone a massive centralization of political, legal, economic, and cultural power in both Tokyo and Osaka over the years.

    The problem these people are trying to address is the power imbalance between them and the social elite in Tokyo, and the mass migrations of young Japanese people to the cities.

    Foreign immigrants may very well be the key to this island village’s revitalization – but they had no reason to consider this, and you can’t call them racist for failing to account for a foreign element while they’re trying to address a domestic problem. It’s completely fair for them to say, “This was supposed to be between us and Tokyo.”

    And, look, a thousand – ten thousand – a hundred thousand foreign immigrants in Tokyo wouldn’t do the tiniest bit of harm to the local culture. A hundred thousand immigrants in Tokyo would hardly put a dent in the power and privilege of the local people.

    But on this tiny island? A hundred foreign immigrants would bring drastic change, that neither the locals nor the immigrants would be mentally or emotionally prepared for. It’s unfair to ask a tiny community to not only accept a sudden influx of immigrants, but also give them large sums of money.

    But, look, did they accept an unqualified “Wajin” NEET from Tokyo and reject an experienced farmer with proficient Japanese language skills from Croatia? No? Then we don’t really know if this is racist or not.

    All they really said is, “Oh, wait, this was aimed at drawing young Japanese people back from the cities; we hadn’t even considered foreign immigrants. Wait a second.”

    Look, I’m the guy who came here to say that Rassun Gorerai is blindingly racist – and I got a bunch of flack for that on Reddit. (Unfortunately, Rassun Gorerai just released an openly racist TV commercial with Tama Home, so I guess at least I can say I’ve been vindicated there.) I’m happy to read deep into the subtext of these things and interpret things in a way no one else wants to.

    But I just think you’re jumping the gun here. Give the situation a chance to play out.

    — Thank you for clarifying your point further, but I think I got the essence the first time: You approve of people being begged (or in this case, bribed) to come live in a place but not give them any say over how it’s run. That is to say, as you have said above, you’ll only accept outsiders if they are in numbers small enough to have no impact. How disenfranchising a view (and it’s one of the reasons why countrysides are dying out — as I’ve written before, people don’t want to move to a place only to be treated like “gaijin” and told to shut up). No. You bring people in, you accept their views, especially since beggars can’t be choosers in this situation. Moreover, you’re supporting the official choosiness based upon racialized paradigms, something which cannot abide by.

    On a personal note, I am sensitive to this issue because that was the attitude in some people (particularly the landed “oldcomer” farmers) in my former country town of Nanporo, Hokkaido, where the population of newcomers soon outnumbered the oldcomers after local government incentives doubled the population in a very short time. They were told to shut up and follow. They didn’t. They (including my then-wife) got elected to the town legislature and made an impact. As should anyone who moves to a place if they so choose.

    In short, the fatal flaw in any repopulation program is people forgetting that they are not just importing numbers — they are importing people. And they must respect those people’s diverse views as outsiders regardless of where they come from, or they should not invite them.


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