Updated May 1st, 2024 at 15:37 IST

Abandoned homes in Japan surges in 80% in 20 years: Government data

According to a survey published by the Japanese government, there were approximately 3.85 million abandoned homes across Japan as of October 2023.

Reported by: Business Desk
Abandoned homes Japan | Image:Unsplash

Vacant homes in Japan: Recent government data from Japan has shed light on a concerning trend: the number of abandoned homes in the country has surged by approximately 80 per cent over the past two decades. This spike underscores the challenges posed by demographic declines, particularly in rural areas, exacerbating the issue of vacant properties.

According to a survey published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on Tuesday, there were approximately 3.85 million abandoned homes across Japan as of October 2023. This marked an increase of 360,000 from the previous survey conducted in 2018.


Defined as residences that have been vacant long-term, excluding rentals and vacation homes, abandoned homes now constitute 5.9 per cent of all Japanese homes, reflecting a 30 basis points rise from 2018. The overall number of vacant homes in Japan has also surged, reaching a record high of 8.99 million, representing 13.8 per cent of all homes in the country.

Abandoned homes pose various challenges, including susceptibility to damage, pest infestations, and collapse. This trend is particularly prominent in rural areas experiencing population declines. Wakayama and Tokushima prefectures, for instance, have emerged as hotspots, with both recording the highest percentage of vacant homes at 21.2 per cent.


The issue extends beyond standalone houses, encompassing a growing number of apartments and condo units. As per the latest survey, over 5.02 million condo units, constituting 16.7 per cent of the total, were vacant as of October. Alarmingly, 846,800 of these units were categorised as abandoned, marking an 8.6 per cent increase from 2018 and a 60 per cent surge from two decades prior.

The presence of empty units within housing complexes can disrupt decision-making processes and lead to financial strains, as owners often neglect maintenance and fee payments. Furthermore, approximately 1.25 million condo units in Japan were constructed over 40 years ago, with this figure expected to triple in the next 20 years, necessitating urgent renovations and repairs.


In response to these challenges, local governments have initiated various measures. For instance, Nagoya began requiring condo management to update authorities on complex conditions in 2022, while Yokohama deployed experts to undermanaged condo buildings to facilitate the establishment of management associations and contract updates.

Despite efforts, addressing the issue remains complex. While Japan enacted a law in 2015 empowering local authorities to address vacant homes at risk of collapse, applying it to lone units within larger complexes poses challenges. To address this gap, the national government amended a law on condominium management in 2022, allowing local authorities to issue advice and warnings to owners of improperly managed units.


Published May 1st, 2024 at 15:37 IST