Category Archives: BUSINESS

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Yodoko Guest House re-opens after 2-year restoration

The Yodoko Guest House in Ashiya, Hyogo, reopened to the public on February 16 after undergoing two years of intensive repairs and restoration work.

This is the only surviving Wright-designed residence in Japan that has remained in largely original condition. The house has a total floor area of 542 sqm (5,832 sq.ft) and sits on over an acre of land.

The 4-storey, reinforced concrete home was completed in 1924 as a summer residence for sake brewer Tazaemon Yamamura. It sits on a hilltop position in wealthy Ashiya City, with views over Osaka Bay. In 1947 it was sold to Yodogawa Steel Works and used by the company president. In 1989 the company opened it up to the public.

If anyone is curious as to how much it costs to restore a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Japan, it’s somewhere around 330 million Yen (approx. 3 million USD).

Repair work began in October 2016 and took two years. The house required repairs to fix roof leaks, weathering to the exterior Oya stone block details, marble flooring, and repainting.

The house is open to the public. Opening hours and details can be viewed here:


3-10 Yamatecho, Ashiya City, Hyogo Prefecture

The Sankei Shimbun, February 14, 2019.
The Kobe Shimbun, February 14, 2019.

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Japan’s pivotal local elections will impact national politics

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

In Japan’s forthcoming quadrennial unified local elections there will be 1000 separate elections. More than 230 political heads, such as prefectural governors and city and town mayors, will be elected by direct vote along with some 15,000 prefectural and municipal assembly members. Given the size of the elections across Japan, they will be conducted in two phases on 7 and 21 April 2019.

Tokyo, Japan – Supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party wave flags welcoming LDP President and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he makes his final appearance at Tokyos Akihabara on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, on the eve of the party presidential election. LDP lawmakers will cast their ballots in the race, in which Abe vies for the post against the fellow lawmaker Shigeru Ishiba. The winner will be announced Thursday afternoon. 19 September 2018. (Photo: Reuters, Natsuki Sakai/AFLO)

Japan has more than 1750 local bodies consisting of prefectures, cities, towns and villages. Their sizes range from the gigantic Tokyo Metropolitan Government to small villages of a few thousand residents. They are all governed by the Local Autonomy Law. Local bodies are highly dependent on the national government …continue reading


It’s tax time for property owners in Japan

If you currently own property in Japan, you should be receiving your annual property tax bill this month or next. These taxes are owed by anyone who owns real estate in Japan, be it residential, commercial or otherwise. Those living overseas are taxed the same as those living in the country.

Tax bills are usually sent out around April or May each year, depending on the city, and are paid to the city where the property is located.

The tax is broken up into two sections:

  • Fixed asset tax: 1.4% of the taxable value
  • City planning tax: 0.3% of the taxable value

The taxable value of the property is not the market value. In many cases it is a lot lower. However, it is tied to changes in property values, so the taxable value may rise if the property market is improving. The amount is adjusted every three years, with the next adjustment due in 2021. Any large jumps in property values are usually offset with a special reduction to reduce any immediate impact on the property owner.

The taxes are usually halved for the first three to five years after the construction of a new home or apartment, so be aware of the potential for your tax bill to increase if you have purchased a new or near-new home.

Before buying property, find out what the most recent tax bill was so you have an idea of what to expect as the next owner.

Paying the tax

You will receive a letter from the city government with the tax payment slips. You can either pay the annual amount in one lump sum, or pay it in four installments. The deadline for the lump sum or first payment is typically in early May. Penalties apply for late payment.

Payment instructions are included with the tax slips. …continue reading


Tokyo Apartment Sales in March 2019

Motoazabu Hills

The following is a selection of apartments that were reported to have sold in central Tokyo during the month of March 2019:

Building Sold Price
(USD/sq.ft) Days Listed Discount
Motoazabu Hills (2002)
/sq ft
60 9.1%

Motoazabu Hills is a landmark 29-storey building developed by Mori Building in 2002. There are currently just 3 sale listings in the 222-unit building with an average asking price of 2,460,000 Yen/sqm. This was a spacious 3 Bedroom apartment on a high floor. It has been the most expensive reported sale in this building on a price-per-square-meter basis to date. There have only been 7 publicly reported sales in this building since 2002 (a large number go un-reported).

Aoyama Park Tower (2003)
/sq ft
77 3.8%

Aoyama Park Tower is a 34-storey high-end apartment building located a few hundred meters from Shibuya Station. The station area is undergoing a massive redevelopment and transformation over the next 9 years. The average asking price in this building is currently around 2,200,000 Yen/sqm. The average sale price in 2018 was 2,325,000 Yen/sqm, up 26% from 2017 (1,845,000 Yen/sqm) and up 37.6% from 2016 (1,690,000 Yen/sqm). This was a large apartment on a high floor. It sold for 67% more than an identical apartment upstairs sold for in 2012 and has been the most expensive reported resale in this building on a price-per-square-meter basis to date.

Brillia Towers Meguro (2017)
/sq ft
1 1.1%

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Challenges confront Japan’s working visa overhaul

Author: Yasuko Hassall Kobayashi, ANU

In December 2018 the Japanese parliament approved a new immigration law to bring a slew of foreign workers to Japan from April 2019. Japanese industries that are facing pressing labour shortages can now bring foreign workers through a simpler process than the existing limited trainee scheme. What does this new law aim to achieve and what new conundrum does it pose to both the Japanese government and Japanese society?

Technical trainees from Vietnam work at a knitwear factory in Mitsuke, Japan, 26 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Linda Sieg).

Previously, workers were paid to provide labour as ‘training’, with salaries kept at lower rates as they had ‘trainee’ status and were not ‘adequately skilled’ labourers. The official rationale of the trainee scheme is international development aid through providing opportunities for foreign trainees to learn skills and technologies in Japan and then bring their obtained skills and knowledge back to their own countries.

The limited ‘aid’ nature of this scheme became a nuisance as the labour shortage intensified. The visa duration was capped at three years. In response to the exacerbation of the labour shortage, the government extended durations of stay from three years to five years in 2017. But this system was limited to companies on a whitelist. An additional difficulty is that to renew their trainee visas, workers had to first go home after the three years before then returning to Japan.

Finally, …continue reading