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One in Seven Homes in Japan Is Empty (Bloomberg+Quartz)

18 May 2019

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Bloomberg title: One in Seven Homes in Japan Is Empty

Date of publishing: 29 April 2019

“A record 8.46 million Japanese homes are sitting vacant as builders keep adding stock in a country where the population is shrinking.

The number jumped by 260,000 in a twice-a-decade survey released by the government on Friday, reaching 13.6 percent of housing, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Many of the properties are for future sale or rental or vacation. However, some are abandoned, posing hazards, the news service reported. Vacancy rates were highest in a prefecture that’s home to the northern part of Mount Fuji, which is a popular area for holiday homes. However more people moving from rural areas to metropolitan ones is also driving the increase, according to the news report.

Stashes of cash are also often discovered when these houses are taken down, the Nikkei Asian Review said. The equivalent of more than $200,000 was found at one Tokyo demolition site in 2018.

Still, the number of empty homes may be dwarfed elsewhere. A 2017 survey indicated a vacancy rate of about one-in-five urban dwellings in China. That translates to around 65 million homes, according to media reports.”

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Quartz title: Over 13% of the homes in Japan are abandoned

Date of publishing: 28 April 2019

“Japan’s population is shrinking. Last year it fell by nearly 450,000 people. Not since records began in 1899 had so few babies been born (921,000). Before that, 2017 had also set a record. Meanwhile the number of people passing away last year set a post-war record. The figures are part of a larger pattern in which births have declined and deaths increased steadily for decades.

Less noticed is another alarming figure that’s been growing. According to the latest government statistics, the number of abandoned homes in Japan reached a record high of 8.5 million as of Oct. 1, 2018, up by 260,000 from five years earlier. As a proportion of total housing stock, abandoned homes reached 13.6%.

Some areas have been hit harder than others. Saitama, north of Tokyo, and tropical Okinawa had the lowest proportions of vacant homes. But the rate topped 20% in the Yamanashi and Wakayama prefectures.

Japan’s education ministry, meanwhile, has struggled with how to repurpose vacant school buildings. One became a building for curing meats, another an onsen (hot springs spa).

Little wonder Japan, long averse to immigration, is preparing to open its doors wider to foreigners to tackle a worker shortage. But even on that front, the numbers are coming up short: There simply aren’t enough educators to teach the newcomers Japanese.”

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-29/japan-s-shrinking-population-leaves-record-8-million-homes-empty

and

https://qz.com/1606596/over-13-of-the-homes-in-japan-are-abandoned/

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