At the forefront of socioeconomic issues facing Japan is its aging and declining population, and perhaps no where will this manifest itself more visibly than in the country’s real estate and infrastructure. Local governments throughout Japan, including Tokyo, are having to come up with innovative solutions for millions of abandoned homes around the country.
Japan’s population is expected to contract by nearly a third within the next 50 years, according to the government’s latest figures, with the number of people dropping from just over 127 million in 2015 to 88 million in 2065 and further shrinking to 51 million by 2115.
As people age and become less self-sufficient, many will move in with family members or go to assisted-living facilities, and eventually pass away. Some will leave behind homes without occupants or caretakers. Even in cases where children inherit these properties, they are often located in places where adult children, working city-center jobs, do not want to live.
According to a survey conducted by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, in 2013 there were 820,000 abandoned houses in the city of Tokyo, which includes the 23 wards and western suburbs.