Japan has an increasing number of vacant houses because of an aging and shrinking population that has left many towns and villages empty.
Japan’s latest Housing and Land Survey has found that a record 8.46 million homes were unoccupied in 2018, an increase of 3.2% on the level five years ago. This represents 13.6% of all homes (up from 13.5%).
“Japan faces significant economic and social impact effects from demographic over the next three decades,” said Asia-Pacific chief economist Rajiv Biswas.
Many of the properties are for future sale or rental or vacation. However, some are abandoned, posing hazards.
It’s getting more attention given the increasing number of affordable houses and sometimes for free. Owners have not decided what to do with their properties yet.
Houses have put up for sale online on a websites called “Akiya Banks.” Akiya is the Japanese term for vacant homes.
On another website, several homes are selling for free where the buyers have to pay only taxes and fees.
Japan’s latest Housing and Land Survey has found that a record 8.46 million homes were unoccupied in 2018, an increase of 3.2% on the level five years ago.
Emphasizing the seriousness of the problem, Yoneyama Hidetaka, chief researcher at consulting firm Think Dyne, explains, “It’s one thing if the building is properly maintained, but many houses are simply left to rot, and will eventually become eyesores.” He adds that more vacant dwellings can also mean more crime and wastage of public services.
The problem is particularly pronounced in areas undergoing a population exodus, with vacancy rates in Wakayama, Tokushima, and Kagoshima standing at 18.8%, 18.6%, and 18.4% respectively, excluding holiday homes.
At the other end of the spectrum, Okinawa, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Tokyo, all of which are experiencing an influx of people, have the lowest rates of unoccupied dwellings.
According to survey, the 2013 figures were higher than 2008′s 7.568 million empty houses, which accounted for about 13.14 percent of Japan’s total homes that year, according to the data. According to experts by 2033, the proportion of vacant homes in Japan is expected to grow to surpass 20 percent.