KOCHI -- In a bid to prevent city dwellers from struggling due to a gap between the ideal country life and the reality after moving, the Kochi Municipal Government released a video clip depicting a countryman seen from an urbanite as an alien, both physically and metaphorically.
The move is part of the municipal government's efforts to promote two-step regional migration -- a system in which urbanites interested in moving to the countryside first migrate to this western Japan city, which is relatively equipped with city functions, before deciding on their final destination within Kochi Prefecture.
In the approximately 4-minute clip, 27-year-old Yoshida, who moved to a village from Tokyo dreaming of an ideal country life, tells 40-year-old Shiozaki, a member of the local volunteer fire brigade, that he is having a hard time getting used to the difference in values and mindsets between migrants like him and the villagers.
After revealing his intention to go back to Tokyo, Yoshida tells Shiozaki, who is wearing an alien face mask, "I know this may sound rude, but recently, you and other people in the village look like aliens to me." To Yoshida's surprise, Shiozaki replies, "Actually, from our perspective, you're the one that looks like an alien." The video then turns to Yoshida, who is shown wearing a different alien mask.
In April 2018, the Kochi Municipal Government launched the initiative for a two-step regional migration system in collaboration with the Kochi Prefectural Government and other local bodies.
According to the municipal government, one out of six migrant groups in Japan ends up moving away from the area they initially chose to live. The system aims to help people understand the gap between their ideals and actual country life to help with smooth regional migration. A city official stated, "I've never heard of a case in which a local government took the initiative in promoting two-step migration."
Those who use the system can receive subsidies to help cover moving expenses for a trial migration to the city of Kochi from its municipal government. The city also provides car rental subsidies for people who want to visit enquiry counters to receive advice on migration at other municipalities in Kochi Prefecture.
As of the end of September, among 33 groups of people that had moved to the city, seven had already settled in locations at other municipalities in the prefecture.
The video uploaded by the Kochi Municipal Government in mid-September is the second clip promoting its two-step regional migration system. Though the first video only received about 63,000 views, the second clip has garnered over 120,000 views.
The city is currently encouraging people to post tweets about life in the countryside, which it plans to put together and show the public.
A city official at an office promoting migration and settlement commented, "The first step is always the hardest when moving to a new place. We hope people watch the video and carefully consider about migration."
The promotional clip can be accessed via YouTube and a special website at https://www.city.kochi.kochi.jp/deeps/inaka-amakunai/ (in Japanese).
(Japanese original by Yuka Matsubara, Kochi Bureau)