Japan's Akiya Problem
In 2018, Japan had approximately 8.49 million unoccupied houses, a significant increase of 1.5 times from 1998, constituting 13.6 per cent of all residences, as reported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
According to projections from the Nomura Research Institute, if not addressed through large-scale demolitions, the number of vacant homes is expected to surge to 23.03 million by 2038, representing 31.5 per cent of all houses. This means that nearly one in three houses could potentially remain unoccupied.
The issue of abandoned homes has become a pressing concern in Japan, with one in seven houses currently vacant.
Why People Are Buying Abandoned Houses?
According to observers, people buy houses in rural Japan at cheaper rates only to later operate them as vacation properties for Airbnbs.
“They can reside in a beautiful part of Japan in a traditional house and earn income from visitors. It’s the fulfilment of a dream for many,” Kazuaki Nebu, country head of property portal IQI Japan, was quoted as saying by SCMP.
Coline Aguirre, a Parisian, also bought an akiya in the central prefecture of Nara for $33,000, also has similar plans for her property. “In France, if I want a small garage I will have to spend €100,000 (US$108,000),” she was quoted as saying by SCMP.
“I’m going to have do a lot of renovation in the house, but the price is still going to be much lower than if I had bought a house in France. So I was thinking to have a renovation budget twice the price of the house,” she says.
She also added that she plans to make it into a hotel and have someone else manage it, making it an investment property.
Japan’s akiya problem has evolved into an unexpected opportunity. The country’s aging and diminishing population have led to a surge in abandoned houses, enticing foreign buyers drawn to Japanese culture and unable to afford similar properties in their home countries due to soaring prices and inflation.
Furthermore, a weak Yen provides an inviting financial environment for these international investors, making the dream of owning a piece of Japan’s rich cultural heritage a reality for many. As Japan’s akiya houses continue to capture the imagination of overseas buyers, they simultaneously breathe new life into these vacant homes and communities, forging a unique and mutually beneficial bond between cultures and economies.
Source: Latest News from WION