Japan’s birth rate, which has been declining for decades,
paired with the persistent global trend of people leaving the countryside for the cities is turning rural Japan into a ghost town.According to the Japanese Statistics Bureau
, which has been collecting the data on empty houses since 1998, more than 13 percent of Japanese houses are currently unoccupied or abandoned. That means 8.5 million houses in Japan are empty, up from 5.7 million in 1998. Only about half of those buildings are for rent or for sale, leaving a large percentage that have reached a level of dilapidation unsuited for use. There have been schemes to give these houses away for little to no money, but potential takers have to think about the cost of renovation before snapping up a free house.
While abandoned houses are less of a problem in areas close to large cities or those which are popular with tourists or for weekend getaways, other areas are even harder hit. Yamanashi and Wakayama prefectures posted vacancy rates of more than 20 percent.