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One-in-seven Japanese homes empty as building boom rubs shoulders with shrinking population

One-in-seven Japanese homes empty as building boom rubs shoulders with shrinking population
The number of Japanese homes that are sitting vacant across the country hit a record-breaking 8.46 million last year, according to the latest housing statistics released by the government.

The survey, which is conducted twice a decade, revealed that 13.6 percent of houses in Japan are unoccupied nationwide as developers continue a massive building spree despite awfully sluggish demand.

The number of uninhabited homes reportedly increased by 260,000 since the previous survey was carried out in 2013.Some of the empty properties are intended for rental or sale, while 3.47 million others have been abandoned, representing a 9.1 percent increase since 2013, according to the Nikkei daily.

Despite stable population decline, Japanese construction firms started building 950,000 new homes in 2018, up 0.7 percent compared to the previous year.

According to the latest data, published by the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, the pace of population decline kept on accelerating in 2018, marking a drop of more than 430,000 people.

The highest vacancy rate of 21.3 percent was in Yamanashi Prefecture, according to the report. The rate of unoccupied residences in the prefecture of Wakayama, famous for its numerous Buddhist temples totaled 20.3 percent. Nagano Prefecture, a former Winter Olympics site, completed the top three at 19.5 percent.

In 2015, the Japanese government approved legislation obliging municipalities to urge owners to repair or demolish uninhabited properties. Local authorities were set to apply the new regulation in 708 cases by last October. Municipalities reportedly took action on behalf of non-compliant owners in 118 of these cases.

“Area residents ask us to do something because empty houses are a hazard, but it’s costly and time-consuming,” the head of a Hokkaido municipality told the media.

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