Why are so many houses sitting empty in Japan?
stuff.co.nz -- May 07
More than one in 10 houses in Japan don't have anyone living in them, according to a recent survey released by the country's central government.

That means 8.46 million homes are sitting completely vacant right now, up 260,000 from the previous survey just five years ago.

These empty houses are either intended for rental or sale in the future, or they've simply been abandoned with no plans for use. According to the survey, the abandoned homes number 3.47 million, or 13.6 per cent of the nation's total houses. That number is up 9.7 per cent since 2013.

Interestingly, the survey counts holiday homes as vacant housing, which explains why popular tourist destinations have such high rates of vacancy. For instance, the Yamanashi Prefecture, which includes the north of Mount Fuji, sits at 21.3 per cent vacant, while the Nagano Prefecture, which was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, sits at 19.5 per cent vacant.

There are several factors contributing to the proliferation of these "ghost houses", but one of the biggest is Japan's recent housing boom. According to the survey, about 950,000 new residences began construction in 2018, up 0.7 per cent from 2017.

This becomes a particularly tricky problem when combined with the massive decline in the country's population. According to government figures, only 921,000 babies were born in Japan in 2018, down 25,000 from the previous year. This also marks the third year running that the figure has been below one million.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths in 2018 was 1.37 million, making the total natural population decline 448,000 for the year. As these figures suggest, Japan's population is ageing at a rapid pace.

News source: stuff.co.nz
May 26
As a foreigner, you will notice that there are pachinko parlors everywhere in Japan. The neon signs of these pachinko parlors will meet your gaze everywhere in the country. Even the television channels will be full of advertisements for new parlors and machines. (newsonjapan.com)
May 26
Japan's top trade negotiator with the United States has said both sides continue to differ on negotiations for a trade deal, adding that they need to work further to narrow the gap. (NHK)
May 23
Carriers in Japan and Taiwan have become the first in Asia to say they will not sell Huawei Technologies' new smartphones in the wake of U.S. restrictions, with a South Korean peer saying it may follow suit. (Nikkei)
May 23
It's a spring morning as seven food trucks pitch up by an office building in Ginza, where a few curious workers are already nosing around for lunch options. Run by husband-and-wife duo Naoya and Rieko Shibutani, the Pieni Kissa van is a big hit and queues quickly form to take advantage of its best-selling taco rice. (Nikkei)
May 21
Japan's economy unexpectedly grew in the first quarter, giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe some momentum to go ahead with his plan to raise the country's consumption tax this fall. (Nikkei)
May 20
Japanese seafood company Maruha Nichiro will export fully farmed tuna to Europe, taking advantage of a recent economic partnership agreement scrapping most substantial tariffs. (Nikkei)
May 18
Toyota Motor has brought back its Supra sports car after a 17-year absence. The new two-seater model was released on Friday in Japan, with its engine provided by the company's German partner, BMW. (NHK)
May 18
Japan's companies are expected to earn less in combined net profit for the year ending March 2020, as the weakening Chinese economy and the yen's strength take their toll on machinery makers and other exporters. (Nikkei)
May 18
The employment rate for job seekers who graduated from universities this spring stood at 97.6 percent, government data showed Friday, in the latest sign of a widespread labor shortage amid a graying population. (Japan Times)
May 17
The messaging app giant Line Corp. said Thursday it will launch a ¥30 billion reward campaign next week to increase usage of its Line Pay service as the cashless war heats up among tech firms in Japan. (Japan Times)