May 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

Complete News World

Why are there 9 million empty houses in Japan?

Why are there 9 million empty houses in Japan?

(CNN) — As the East Asian country continues to struggle with a shrinking population, the number of vacant homes in Japan has risen to nine million, more than enough for every person in New York City.

Abandoned houses are called “Agiya” in Japan, which usually refers to abandoned residential houses hidden in the countryside.

But more akias are found in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, and that’s a problem for a government already dealing with an aging population and an alarming drop in the number of babies born each year.

“This is a sign of Japan’s declining population,” said Jeffrey Hall, a professor at Kanda University for International Studies in Chiba. “It’s not really a problem of building too much housing,” but “a problem of not enough people,” he said.

According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 14% of all residential properties in Japan are vacant.

The figures include second homes and those left vacant for other reasons, including properties temporarily vacant while their owners work abroad.

Not all have been abandoned to extinction like the traditional akia, whose growing numbers present many problems for the government and communities, experts told CNN.

Efforts to revitalize crumbling cities include risks to rescuers during disasters in a country prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as the dangers of lack of maintenance.

Weeds and vines grow around an abandoned house in Okuma, Japan, March 9, 2023, ahead of festivities marking the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

Weeds and vines grow around an abandoned house in Okuma, Japan, March 9, 2023, ahead of festivities marking the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

The problem of over-housing

Akiya They are often passed down from generation to generation. But with Japan’s declining fertility rate, many have been left without heirs, or are being inherited by younger generations who don’t see much value in moving to the cities and returning to the countryside, CNN experts said.

See also  “There are no bills to pay. We have to create now ”: Alvaro reveals details of meeting with Gustavo Petrov

Some houses are in administrative chaos as local authorities do not know who the owners are due to a lack of records.

This makes it difficult for the government to revitalize rapidly aging rural communities, efforts to attract young people interested in alternative lifestyles, or investors looking for bargains.

Under Japan’s tax policies, some homeowners find it cheaper to remodel a home than to demolish it.

Even if the owners want to sell, they may have trouble finding buyers, said Kanda University’s Hall.

“Many of these homes are isolated from public transportation, health care and convenience stores,” he said.

Plants grow around an empty house in the Yado district of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan on August 21, 2013.  (Photo: Akio Kon/Bloomberg/Getty Images/File.)

Plants grow around an empty house in the Yado district of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan on August 21, 2013. (Photo: Akio Kon/Bloomberg/Getty Images/File.)

Videos showing people, mainly foreigners, taking cheap Japanese houses and turning them into elegant homes Guest houses and cafes They’ve gained a lot of followers on social media in recent years, but Hall cautioned that it’s not as easy as it seems.

“The reality is that most of these houses are not going to be sold to foreigners, or the amount of administrative work and the rules behind it are not easy for someone who doesn’t speak Japanese and reads Japanese well,” he said. said.

“They can’t afford these houses.”

Very few

Japan’s population has been declining for years: at last in 2022, the population was reduced More than 800,000 people from the previous year, to 125.4 million.

In 2023, the number of new births fell for the eighth year in a row, an all-time low, according to official data.

See also  Republicans recapture Virginia governorate with Glenn Young's victory over Joe Biden

Japan’s birth rate has hovered at 1.3 for years, a far cry from the 2.1 needed to maintain a stable population, and last week Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said the number of children under 15 had fallen to a 43rd consecutive year. 14 million as on April 1.

A partially collapsed abandoned wooden house in Thampasayama, Japan on April 5, 2023, Budhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

A partially collapsed abandoned wooden house in Tampasayama, Japan on April 5, 2023. (Photo: Budhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images).

The problem of too many houses and not enough people seems likely to continue for some time.

Yuki Akiyama, a professor at Tokyo City University’s School of Architecture and Urban Design, said vacant homes have caused problems in the past after the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the Noto Peninsula in central Ishikawa Prefecture last January.

He said the earthquake-hit area is affected by Akiya, and they pose a risk to residents during a disaster and a challenge for post-earthquake reconstruction.

“When an earthquake or tsunami occurs, there is a chance that empty houses will collapse and be destroyed, blocking evacuation routes,” he explained.

After the quake, officials had trouble determining which properties could be cleared, Akiyama said, because of the lack of clarity on their ownership, which was “an obstacle to reconstruction.”

In other rural areas where empty houses are high, Akiya has stunted growth, the professor said.

As these properties remain, he said, “the value of the area will decrease because it will not be a good place to buy and sell and a place that cannot be developed on a large scale.”

People will think that the place has no value and the real estate value of the entire area will gradually decrease.

See also  The EU Observer Mission in Venezuela submitted its report: "We note the lack of judicial independence and non-compliance with the rule of law."

Akiyama has devised an artificial intelligence program to predict the most vulnerable areas, but stressed that the problem is not unique to Japan: it is also seen in the US and some European countries.

However, Japan’s architectural history and culture make the situation particularly difficult.

Japanese houses are not valued for their longevity, and unlike in the West, people generally do not see the advantages of living in historic buildings.

“In Japan, a new house sells for a higher price,” he says.