Demographics and development of housing in JapanIn the years following the end of the war, Japan experienced a severe housing shortage. To meet the demand, the government responded with a large-scale provision of public housing. New multistorey apartment building complexes made of concrete called “Danchi” became a symbol for prosperity during the period of economic recovery in the 1960s. This had an impact on lifestyles and led to a transformation of household structures. While multi-generational households living under one roof had been the norm in the pre-war period, the provision of apartment buildings resulted in an increasing proportion of the population living in nuclear families.
Today, Japan is facing a demographic shift with an aging and declining population that has implications for the residential real estate market. A sharp population decrease is projected for the coming decades, accompanied by a rising share of single households and a decline in the average number of members per household.
The demographic shift is one of the reasons for the high share of vacant and abandoned houses across Japan that is especially apparent in rural areas, as Japan’s population and economic activity are largely concentrated in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas. This development and a comparably small existing housing market have prompted the government to refocus its policies on the promotion of home renovations and the utilization of the existing housing stock.