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Japan planning to establish zones to give vacant homes new life

19 Comments

Japan plans to establish zones that will simplify procedures for repurposing vacant homes into cafes and lodging facilities in an effort to utilize the growing number of uninhabited properties across the country, according to a draft bill.

According to the bill designed to revise the law on special measures for vacant houses, the government is aiming for municipalities to establish 100 such zones within five years of the law taking effect. The bill will be submitted to the current parliament session.

The changes will also simplify procedures for municipalities to demolish properties at risk of collapse, while vacant houses not adequately maintained will be made ineligible for preferential property tax treatment, encouraging owners to take prompt action.

The number of vacant houses in Japan has grown 1.5-fold over the past 20 years, with the figure only expected to rise due to the declining population. Some 3.49 million properties are left unoccupied for long periods.

With concerns that such vacant buildings have a negative impact on anti-disaster measures, crime prevention, sanitation and the scenery, the government is working to encourage their utilization before they deteriorate further.

Municipalities will determine where to establish the zones, envisioned to encompass areas where tourism is promoted and city centers, as well as guidelines for their utilization.

The proposed amendment will also simplify procedures for marking vacant houses in poor condition for demolition.

Under the current system, local governments can demolish houses at risk of collapsing after going through a process called "execution by proxy." When there is a high degree of urgency, such as natural disasters causing further damage, some steps can be omitted under the revised law.

Vacant houses marked as at risk of collapsing are currently ineligible for a preferential system that reduces the property tax on land with residential homes.

The changes will also make owners of properties that are not properly maintained and have not complied with their local government's advice to repair or rebuild ineligible for the preferential tax treatment.

© KYODO

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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A glacier moves faster than Japanese politics.

6 ( +24 / -18 )

Old, empty, dilapidated houses are scattered throughout my neighborhood in east Osaka. And there are two three empty apartment/danchi type buildings that I know of in addition to the dozens of vacant apartments for rent.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Sounds like another layer of paperwork to slightly reduce the current layer of paperwork.

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

So many homeless yet so many homes…what a sad world!

7 ( +16 / -9 )

A glacier moves faster than Japanese politics.

It's a race to see which will fade into oblivion first though.

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

 Some 3.49 million properties are left unoccupied for long periods.

J-TV could help by not broadcasting Tokyo 24h a day, whole Japan wants to move here (even people from Kobe, Osaka, etc.).

For as little as 70.000 you can rent a 80m² 3LDK top floor suite on 7th-14th floor (parking included) 10min. from a train station in most japanese capitals.

Try hard and you can get a 45m² 2DK without elevator 10min. from the station for the same price in Tokyo. (+15.000 yen parking with luck)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So many homeless yet so many homes…what a sad world!

Ok, you made the comment, how do propose the municipal governments deal with this? Giving someone else's property away to a homeless person to live in. Then who is going to be expected to watch over them? Pay the bills required to give them heat, electricity, and furnishings? Who is going to pay to bring them up to code, to make them actually livable? Who is going to provide them with an income so they can become independent?

Easy to toss out comments, but not so easy to come up with the money, and solutions. It's far from a "sad world" here, it's reality of a changing and older society, that is stuck in the "Showa" era of getting things accomplished.

Oh and I guess you wouldnt mind one bit if I take your unused property now would you?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

A glacier moves faster than Japanese politics.

Of course it does. Moving any faster would be reckless and hasty. Several studies and careful planning need to be done before any new law is even considered.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Why not look into why these places are empty? Or why people have moved away?

Lack of jobs, facilities, transportation, schools, and deaths of owners.

Jobs nearby, even WFH, are needed to enable people to afford to live in these places,

as well as the basics to build a community and life.

Promotion of tourism, cafes, lodgings... more Go To Trouble?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

J-TV could help by not broadcasting Tokyo 24h a day, whole Japan wants to move here (even people from Kobe, Osaka, etc.)

who wants to live in Tokyo?? Couldn’t think of anything worse. Fun place to visit for the weekend but live there? No thanks

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Sanjinosebleed

So many homeless yet so many homes…what a sad world

Moving homeless people into properties even after raising them to safety standards poses problems. Don’t homeless people have a right to have no permanent residence?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Never wanted to live in Tokyo and I never will-cramped and expensive

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Do it quite see how this will solve the problem. Perhaps they need to address the underlying problems leading to this situation. One thing I have never understood is why in most other countries houses are not in need of replacement after 30 or more years? People are happy to buy an older property and don’t need to pull it down and rebuild? If housing didn’t deteriorate so quickly would solve a part of the problem.

The reasons why people are leaving property to decline need to be determined and dealt with. If it costs you more to keep and allow to decline than to repair and rent/sell again some of the problem goes away.

Japan needs to level up the services and facilities between rural and urban, not only encourage businesses to relocate/start up but provide the services and transport infrastructure to make it attractive.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Tax is the main reason. Empty house no taxes. Demolish the house costing more than ¥1 million and then land tax is due. Sometimes there are no family members left to claim the property. The land is worth more than the house but in many locations land is cheap.

The government and local authorities have no powers of compulsory purchase.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Import young families from culturally friendly countries and give them those houses and a renovation budget. Solves a lot of problems.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Unlike other countries, homes in Japan depreciate - it's the land that matters

So people don't look to sell their homes - they just leave it

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Good plan, move forward..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tax is the main reason. Empty house no taxes. Demolish the house costing more than ¥1 million and then land tax is due.

The government and local authorities have no powers of compulsory purchase.

Empty house, still tax on the property! Land tax is due every year, called koteshisanzei 固定資産税, I know, I pay it every year. The house loses value, but the property goes fluctuates according to appraisal.

Oh and if "property" is unused, the government can tax it at a higher rate if it just sits unused, hence all the parking lots.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

get Apollo the Boston Dynamics robot to fix them all up, or tear down etc

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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