8.46m homes or 13.6% of all dwellings are vacant in Japan in 2018. This is up 3.2% on 2017 according to the Housing & Land Survey. CM wrote about the population exodus from regional areas in Japan in this report.
Vacancy rates in Wakayama, Tokushima, and Kagoshima prefectures stand at 18.8%, 18.6%, and 18.4% respectively, areas suffering population exodus. Tokyo, Kanazawa (Yokohama), Okinawa and Saitama, all experiencing net migration inflows, have the lowest rates of unoccupied houses.
Yubari City in Hokkaido has a campaign poster – “No money but love.”
Yubari is notable for five things. First, it is the region that produces Japan’s most expensive melons, the type you see beautifully encased in a satin-lined pine box with a price label of US$200. Second, it had to declare bankruptcy in 2007. Third, its population has fallen from 117,000 in the 1960s to around 21,000 in the 1990s to less than 8,900 today, falling 19% in the last 5 years alone. Fourth, the average age of the city’s residents is set to hit 65 by 2020. Fifth, taxable income continues to fall with estimates that government coffers will swell by a woozy 25% of the levels seen 20 years ago.
Not a good sign for the regional economies. Japan has a stall speed warning and the government plans to fix it are painfully inadequate.