A record high 13.5 percent of existing housing units in Japan were vacant as of last Oct. 1, up 0.4 percentage point from five years earlier when the survey was last conducted, the government said Tuesday.
Over that five-year period, the number of vacant housing units increased by 630,000 to a record 8.2 million, as the oversupply has made it difficult to sell or lease poorly located or otherwise unappealing dwellings, the survey by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry showed.
The survey indicates the need for the central and local governments to address the issue of vacant housing which is expected to increase due to population decline. Decaying vacant housing presents safety hazards, can depress the value of nearby properties and impair scenery.
The housing vacancy rate exceeded 10 percent in 46 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The rate was the highest in Yamanashi Prefecture at 22.0 percent, followed by 19.8 percent in Nagano and 18.1 percent in Wakayama.
The survey also found that the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan had forced 330,000 households to move and 573,000 houses to be refurbished.