In response to the persistent problem of derelict vacant houses full of garbage, Koriyama City officials in Fukushima Prefecture have taken legal action by enacting a new ordinance that authorizes the owner's name to be released to the public. This ordinance is the first of its kind in Japan.
On Thursday, Koriyama City named Shotaro Hirano as the owner of four derelict houses which city officials said were overflowing with garbage, Sankei Shimbun reported.
City officials have also informed Hirano that the trash accumulated in his four homes will be forcibly removed and discarded and that the houses will be demolished if he doesn't clean them out.
Nationwide, many local governments are starting to take action by demolishing vacant houses that have been abandoned for a long time and which are deemed to be unsafe or pose a sanitary risk.
The moves come in response to a law drawn up last year by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry to deal with the increasing number of abandoned houses.
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry estimates that there are 8.2 million abandoned houses across the nation, many of which have become decrepit, in danger of collapse, or have attracted pests.
The new law allows municipal authorities to enter the houses for inspection. If they are deemed to pose a health hazard, they will be classified as “Special Vacant Houses” and their owners will be notified and ordered to either repair the houses or demolish them.
However, municipalities say that some houses have long been abandoned and there is no record of where the owners are or if they are even still alive. They say this raises the question of who will pay for the demolition of the houses, which costs an average of 2 million yen.
To encourage owners to rid themselves of an abandoned home, the preferential property tax rate normally levied on a residential property will be replaced by a rate six times higher.
Despite the ongoing decline in Japan’s population due to the low birth rate, some one million newly built residences go on the market each year in Japan. The signs of a glut are finally starting to manifest themselves, and particularly outside of major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, many new units are unable to find buyers.
Children who inherit such properties may find themselves faced with the triple-whammy of owning a house that is “unrentable,” “unsellable” and “unliveable,” leaving them with the prospect of paying maintenance, upkeep and taxes for the foreseeable future.© Japan Today