Articles - Data crunches - Analysis
For years, Japan has tried — without success — to prevent politics, business and its population from being overly concentrated in Tokyo. But it appears the coronavirus pandemic could be a game changer, with many seeing it as an opportunity to rethink their approaches to work and life and move out of the capital to rural areas.
Among them is Kazuki Hanado, 27, who moved to the city of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture in October 2020. Before the pandemic, Hanado, who was born in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, worked at a luxury inn near the Imperial Palace. But in May 2020, a few months after Japan decided to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the inn closed down. The hiatus made her re-evaluate her life.
We have been shifting and twisting and trying to adjust to a comfortable lifestyle under COVID-19. Part of that has meant getting away, even moving from crowded cities into more spacious areas. And for quite a few, Japan’s countryside has become more and more appealing. Imagine for a moment, retiring with Japan’s fresh air, greenery, rivers. Or that ideal environment to raise a family. Or imagine for a moment to generate an income on short-term rentals taking advantage of the country’s back on track campaign to boost tourism. Let’s look at how to make this dream more realistic.
Many Japanese abodes in 2021 are returning to the roots of traditional residences and adding an earthen floor entryway or incorporating modern variants of the space. Japanese homes already have a small “genkan” entrance area for people to store their shoes before going inside. Now, more apartment buyers are asking for a larger “doma” traditional earthen-floored space, in which they can walk around while wearing footwear and store items for outdoor use. The demand for doma appears to be related to the boom in people engaging in more outdoor leisure activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic and increased consumer desire to maintain cleanliness in the home by separating spaces.
The rate of offices standing empty in central Tokyo in November dropped for the first time since the pandemic began, an early signal that the worst could be over for the capital’s property market. Vacancies fell by 0.12 percentage points to 6.35% in Tokyo’s five main business districts, real estate brokerage Miki Shoji Co. said on Thursday. Since hitting 1.49% in February 2020, the lowest since the country’s economic bubble burst in the early 1990s, vacancies have surged.
The government and the ruling coalition are planning to extend a tax break system for people who renovate their homes, sources familiar with the matter said.
The home renovation tax relief is set to expire at the end of this year but government and ruling coalition officials are considering keeping it in place until the end of 2023, the sources said.
The decision to extend the program is aimed at promoting sales of used homes amid a spike in vacant homes across the country.
Higher fuel prices drove up Tokyo’s cost of living at the fastest pace in 16 months, although the increases were still tiny compared with those confronting consumers in other economies, where central banks are pulling back stimulus.