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Japan Faces Record 9 Million Unoccupied Houses!

Japan is currently grappling with a significant demographic crisis as the number of vacant homes in the country has reached a staggering 9 million, mirroring a shrinking population trend that poses a formidable challenge to urban planning and economic stability. In 2020, Japan's population was estimated at around 128 million, but studies like those from Lancet predict this could plummet to just 53 million by the end of this century.

These vacant homes, locally known as "Akiya," are prevalent even in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, marking a dramatic shift from their traditional rural settings. The decline in birth rates and the aging population are major contributors to this situation, leaving many houses without residents as younger generations migrate to urban centers.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Japan reports that 14% of homes are currently unoccupied, some even in prime locations that have recently been vacated. While this issue predominantly affects rural areas, the repercussions are felt nationwide, affecting the housing market and complicating emergency responses to natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.

Interestingly, while locals inherit these homes, they often find maintaining or selling them challenging due to the declining population. Some foreigners have begun purchasing these Akiyas, transforming them into guesthouses, which has sparked a trend on social media, although experts claim this is only a minor fraction of the properties.

Despite the allure of owning a home in Japan, language barriers and logistical issues make it difficult for foreigners to settle in rural areas. The real estate experts suggest that buying and reselling these vacant homes is nearly impossible, reflecting a broader issue not unique to Japan but prevalent in parts of the United States and Europe as well.