New Legislation Expected for Home-Sharing Accommodations in Japan 2017

Japanese Investment Properties

Japan Real Estate

30 Dec, 2016 –

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The “minpaku” lodging service industry is stepping up preparations for a government move that will allow individuals and businesses to rent out vacant homes and rooms for tourists without permission from local authorities. The provision of minpaku accommodation has been partially liberalized, with services allowed in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka, all designated as “national strategic special zones.” Minpaku literally means “private stay.”

Local governments have their own ordinances governing minpaku services, creating a barrier to the growth of the industry that is needed to make up for shortages of hotels amid steep increases in the number of visitors from abroad in the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The central government plans to submit a bill to next year’s ordinary session of the Diet in order to create rules for the full liberalization of minpaku services. To take advantage of the deregulation move, Hyakusenrenma Inc. in Sendai, which operates a website called Stay Japan to introduce minpaku accommodation, started using a leased old Japanese folk house in Ota Ward as a minpaku home in February this year.

The flat house is located about 10 minutes’ walk from East Japan Railway Co.’s Kamata Station and costs ¥12,000 per night on weekdays, lower than local economy no-frills accommodation “business hotels” that charge the same amount per person. Accommodating up to four adults at a time, the house was used by families and other visitors from the United States, Russia and the Philippines during the summer vacation period.

The full liberalization of minpaku services would enable foreign tourists to stay in Japan during their long vacations as if they are living in Japan, Yasuhiro Kamiyama, president of Hyakusenrenma, said. The deregulation would also make it possible to “utilize distinctive local facilities, such as sake breweries in the Tohoku region, for minpaku services,” he added.

The Japanese unit of Airbnb Inc., a U.S. online minpaku network operator, is positioning such services as part of the globally expanding “sharing economy” and is seeking to promote the concept in rural regions in Japan. For example, the company has proposed building a house in Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, in cooperation with architect Go Hasegawa, using local cedar and cypress trees, for management by the town office as a lodging accommodation for tourists or as a community hall. Airbnb is discussing the idea of saving some of the earnings from the house’s operations for use in efforts to maintain and promote traditional cultural assets in the town.

Operating minpaku facilities both inside and outside the special zones for deregulation, Airbnb handled about 1.3 million visitors to Japan from the United States, China and other countries in 2015. The central government has set a goal of boosting the number of visitors to Japan to 40 million in 2020, up from around 24 million estimated in 2016, already an annual record.
(Source – “CNBC“, Pic – Apartment Share House / “JAPANKURU“)

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