A small town in Japan is trying to attract new residents by offering a cash incentive of one million yen ($10,000) to anyone with the surname Suzuki who is willing to relocate there.
The town of Kainan in Wakayama prefecture has a population of about 33,000 people, but it is facing a demographic crisis as more young people move to urban areas. The town hopes to reverse the trend by appealing to people with the Suzuki surname, which is the second most common in Japan.
The reason for targeting Suzuki is that the town has a historical connection to the name. According to local legend, the town was founded by a samurai named Suzuki Shigeyoshi in the 16th century. He was a loyal follower of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a powerful warlord who unified Japan. Suzuki Shigeyoshi built a castle and a shrine in Kainan, and his descendants ruled the area for generations.
The town still has many landmarks and festivals related to the Suzuki clan, and the local government wants to preserve and promote this cultural heritage. The town also claims that Suzuki Shigeyoshi was the ancestor of the famous Suzuki samurai clan in Mikawa, Aichi prefecture, which produced many influential figures in Japanese history, such as Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.
The town’s mayor, Suzuki Yasuhiro, who is also a descendant of Suzuki Shigeyoshi, said he came up with the idea of offering money to Suzuki newcomers after hearing that some people in Japan change their surnames to match their ancestral hometowns. He said he wanted to invite people who share the same surname and roots to join the community and revitalize the town.
The town launched the campaign in November, and so far, it has received more than 100 inquiries from people with the Suzuki surname across Japan. The town plans to select up to 10 applicants who meet the criteria, such as being under 55 years old, having a stable income, and agreeing to live in the town for at least five years. The applicants will also have to pass an interview and a background check. The town will provide the selected Suzuki with one million yen each, as well as assistance with housing, education, and employment².
The town hopes that the campaign will not only increase the population, but also create a sense of belonging and pride among the residents. The town also hopes to attract more tourists and visitors who are interested in the Suzuki clan’s history and culture. The town’s slogan is “Kainan, the town of Suzuki”.