The government is planning to offer jobless people work in farming and fishing in hopes of bringing new blood to the aging countryside amid a worsening recession, officials said Friday.
Japanese companies have slashed tens of thousands of jobs, many held by young people on temporary contracts, as the global slowdown cuts demand for cars, electronics and other goods made by Asia's largest economy.
Japan has one of the world's lowest birthrates and with young people for years flocking to the cities, the countryside has been rapidly graying.
As part of Prime Minister Taro Aso's emergency economic package, the government is paying expenses for 800 jobless people to go on 10-day trips to learn how to process and sell agricultural produce.
In the financial year starting in April, the program will be expanded to offer year-long stays in farming and fishing villages to about 50 people, agriculture ministry official Hisao Muneta said.
The program "is aimed at recruiting potential successors for the agricultural and fisheries industries", he said. "Some participants in the program will hopefully settle permanently in villages."
Farmers and fishermen often find it difficult to persuade young people to stay in small towns, where other types of work are scarce. Japan relies on imports for around 60% of its food, the highest rate among rich nations.
Muneta said young people could also bring new dynamism to rural communities.
"Even a small thing such as showing how to post a blog on the Internet would be great help to aging farmers and fishermen in promoting their products," he said.
The agriculture ministry will ask for help from groups that have recruited young people in the past to resettle in rural villages, officials said.© Wire reports