News On Japan

Japan’s Growing Problem of Vacant Homes

TOKYO, Jun 17 (News On Japan) - The number of vacant homes in Japan has reached a record high of approximately 9 million due to factors such as an aging population and declining birth rates. Wakayama Prefecture, with a vacancy rate of 21.2%, and Setagaya Ward in Tokyo, which has the highest number of vacant homes among municipalities with 50,000 homes, have been the focus of recent investigations.

Located in the southern part of Wakayama Prefecture, Tanabe City is famous for its plum production but now faces the growing issue of vacant homes. A local neighborhood association recently reported a vacant house with a broken pillar, prompting an immediate inspection. The wooden one-story house, approximately 46 square meters in size, had a broken pillar and a leaning wall. A drone inspection revealed that half of the roof had collapsed.

Nearby residents expressed concern over the safety of such structures. The vice president of the neighborhood association, who also owns a vacant house, reported the issue. The city contacted the property owner, who agreed to demolish the house, leading to the arrival of a demolition contractor within two hours. With municipal subsidies, demolition commenced six days later.

Such vacant house issues are prevalent nationwide. According to a survey released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in April, the number of vacant houses in Japan reached approximately 9 million, a record high. Wakayama Prefecture's vacancy rate of 21.2% is the highest in the country. In such regional cities, the cost of land often becomes cheaper than the demolition costs, leading to abandoned properties.

Tanabe City has been addressing this issue since 2017 by offering free demolition cost estimates and providing up to 500,000 yen in subsidies for houses at risk of collapse. This program's budget covers 12 demolitions, amounting to 6 million yen. Additionally, the city has introduced unique measures to utilize vacant land, such as transforming former vacant house sites into community gardens. A program launched in July allows neighboring residents to acquire adjacent land for a nominal fee, facilitating the extension of their property and ensuring community safety. This system has been utilized 53 times so far.

Efforts to repurpose vacant houses are also underway. A program matches residents wanting to start businesses with vacant houses, allowing them to renovate the property for use as study rooms for high school students or accommodation for university interns. Annual rent for such properties is 97,000 yen. The city has also conducted briefings with local businesses to promote further utilization of vacant houses.

However, the issue of vacant houses is not confined to regional cities. In Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, areas like the quiet residential neighborhood near Komazawa Park have sections where vacant houses have become overgrown and dilapidated. Despite high property values, many owners prefer to hold onto these properties as assets, delaying decisions to sell or demolish them. Setagaya Ward has received approximately 200 annual inquiries about vacant houses, leading to detailed investigations and safety measures.

According to Nomura Research Institute, the vacancy rate in Japan is expected to double in the next 20 years. Setagaya Ward is focusing on preventive measures and supporting owners to avoid properties becoming vacant.

Source: TBS

News On Japan
POPULAR NEWS

Three people who went missing after a landslide in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, have been found, though their condition is yet to be confirmed.

To address the severe aviation fuel shortage in Japan, a new initiative has been launched as part of an emergency response formulated by the public and private sectors.

Dogo Onsen in Ehime has reopened after five and a half years of renovations. Some people waited as long as eight hours to be the first to take a bath.

A compliance training session for host clubs in Tokyo's Kabukicho district was conducted in response to a series of "urikake" problems, where malicious host clubs saddled customers with exorbitant debts.

A Japanese man detained in Myanmar over the sale price of rice has been charged and will face trial on Friday, July 12.

MEDIA CHANNELS
         

MORE Society NEWS

A 26-year-old policeman in Osaka has been arrested and indicted for sexually assaulting a girl in his car, knowing that she was under 16 years old.

A kebab shop in Shibuya's Center-gai has fallen victim to theft, with the arrested of five individuals, including a former employee.

A 37-year-old man arrested for entering a women's bath in Nagoya, has denied his intention was to see naked women.

A survey on pet names has revealed that 'Mugi' is the most popular name for both dogs and cats. According to the 2023 Pet Name Ranking conducted by pet insurance company Aipet Insurance, the top names for male and female dogs have been 'Leo' and 'Coco' respectively for nine consecutive years.

A theft group has been arrested for stealing sports cars and luxury vehicles in the Kanto region. The losses amount to over 300 cars, valued at approximately 780 million yen.

A 20-something Chinese woman who went missing while swimming in the sea off Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, was miraculously rescued 36 hours later. On the morning of July 10th at around 8 a.m., she was found by a cargo ship approximately 80 kilometers away, off the coast of Minamiboso City, Chiba Prefecture, with a floating ring.

A local taxi in Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture, narrowly escaped falling debris as dashcam footage shows the road ahead collapsing following record-breaking heavy rainfall on Tuesday.

Japan's Imperial Family, including Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako, Crown Prince Akishino, Crown Princess Kiko, and Princess Kako, gathered for a special music concert to celebrate the 90th birthdays of former Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. Also in attendance were Sayako Kuroda and other family members.