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Japan's shrinking population leaves record 8 million homes empty

The number jumped by 260,000 in a twice-a-decade survey released by the government on Friday, reaching 13.6 per cent of housing

Paul Panckhurst | Bloomberg 

Parks and Apartments in Urayasu
Parks and Apartments in Urayasu Photo: Bloomberg

A record 8.46 million Japanese homes are sitting vacant as builders keep adding stock in a country where the is shrinking.

The number jumped by 260,000 in a twice-a-decade survey released by the government on Friday, reaching 13.6 percent of housing, the reported.

Many of the properties are for future sale or rental or vacation. However, some are abandoned, posing hazards, the news service reported. Vacancy rates were highest in a prefecture that’s home to the northern part of Mount Fuji, which is a popular area for holiday homes. However more people moving from rural areas to metropolitan ones is also driving the increase, according to the news report.

Stashes of cash are also often discovered when these houses are taken down, the said. The equivalent of more than $200,000 was found at one site in 2018.

Still, the number of empty homes may be dwarfed elsewhere. A 2017 survey indicated a vacancy rate of about one-in-five urban dwellings in China. That translates to around 65 million homes, according to media reports.

First Published: Mon, April 29 2019. 23:42 IST
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