Japan now has 9 million vacant homes

An abandoned house in Mikasa, Hokkaido, Japan (Calistemon/CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed)
Latest statistics from the Japanese government show the number of vacant homes stood at a record 8.99 million as of October 2023, or 13.8% of all homes in the country.

Falling birth rates and rural depopulation are among the factors blamed.

More than a third of them, 3.85 million, are outright abandoned, according to the results of a survey published yesterday by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Nikkei Asia reports.

That’s an 80% increase in abandoned homes between 2003 and October 2023.

Rural prefectures with shrinking populations lead the growth in vacant or abandoned homes, according to Nikkei.

Wakayama and Tokushima prefectures were tied for the highest percentage of vacant homes, at 21.2%.

But the the tally also includes a growing number of apartments and condo units.

Some 5 million, or 16.7%, of such units were vacant as of October, Nikkei reports.

Of that number, 846,800 were abandoned, an increase of around 60% from 20 years prior.

Japan’s tax rules may be contributing to the glut, newspaper The Guardian notes.

It says vacant land attracts higher taxes there than land with buildings, which might put people off knocking down old houses.

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