The monthly number of people migrating into Tokyo and its vicinity in July was less than the number of those moving out of the area for the first time, as the capital became the center of a coronavirus resurgence in the country, government data showed Thursday.
The outflow exceeded the inflow by 1,459 people in the capital and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, marking the first negative net migration since the government began compiling figures including foreigners in July 2013.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the number of people moving into the Tokyo metropolitan region dropped 16.1 percent from a year earlier to 29,103 in July. Those migrating from the area fell 5.7 percent to 30,562.
While a concentration of population has been seen in the capital for years, the ministry noted that it "cannot confirm immediately whether this trend is temporary or not," adding it will continue to monitor the data in the coming months.
The net population outflow totaled 2,522 in Tokyo alone, which saw a spike in the number of new coronavirus infections last month.
Gov. Yuriko Koike raised the alert for the pandemic to the highest of four levels in mid-July, meaning "infections are spreading." Several governors of other prefectures also called on their residents to refrain from traveling to the capital.
Tokyo remains the hardest-hit area, with more than 20,000 cases confirmed. The recent surge reflects increasing infections occurring at nightlife establishments or while people dine out.