18 Jun 2023

Why There Are So Many Abandoned Homes Or Akiyas In Japan? Reasons Are Surprising

In a country like India where owning a house is a dream for most middle class families and people have to send their lifetime earnings to buy or build a home, can you believe that in a small country like Japan lakhs of houses are lying vacant. People have abandoned their homes and there is no one to look after them and the homes are turning into ruins.

13% of all homes are lying vacant in Japan


Lakhs of houses are lying vacant in Japan. According to government statistics, there are over 80 lakh vacant homes which are also known as Akiya in Japan.  Akiya simply means abandoned or vacant houses in Japan.According to the statistics of the year 2018, of all the homes in japan, 13 percent are Akiya homes. But why there are so many houses lying vacant in Japan?

Akiyas are not only in urban but also in rural areas. According to government statistics, there are more than 80 lakh Akiyas in Japan, while people believe that the number is actually much higher.

Earlier, three generations used to live together in a joint family, so that the house was easily handed over to the new generation and the maintenance of the house continued. After the Second World War, in the era of economic revival, people started settling down in the cities and built their houses there. Both the generations slowly started living apart.

Maintenance of old ancestral houses was neglected

As people left the joint family and settled in the cities, the resources of the family decreased and the maintenance of old ancestral houses was neglected.

Now the families are getting smaller. Now 38 percent of the total families are such families in which only one or two people live together.

When these people also pass away or leave the house, another Akiya is formed. Apart from the change in the pattern of population, there are other reasons also due to which property related problems are increasing.

What are economic reasons

Actually there are economic reasons as well behind the houses left vacant. Tax concession is available on the land if a house is built on it. That's why the landlords do not want to vacate the land by demolishing the house. That's why instead of demolishing it is more beneficial for the landlords to leave it vacant.

Another reason for this is that many houses are years old and the memories of the people living there are attached to them. But along with this it is also an issue of religious faith.

People believe souls of ancestors reside in Akiyas

People keep things of their ancestors in these houses and believe that the souls of ancestors reside in Akiya.

Lack of employment in rural areas is also a major reason large number of Akiyas.

There are not enough opportunities for employment and higher education in rural areas. That's why the young generation is getting attracted towards big cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

Wild animals make Akiya their home 

Wild animals also start living in Akiya houses. Also, due to heavy snowfall or storm, these dilapidated wooden houses collapse and fall on the neighboring houses.

In order to demolish these houses and vacate the land, the government has to take permission from their owners, which is difficult because often people leave without leaving their next address.

At many places, the administration has also taken steps to convert these houses into cafes, tourist accommodation or shops, but the problem is not being solved by that.


Many of these houses are so old that their repair is difficult

The issue is that the number of Akiyas is far greater than the number of people who need them. And many of these houses have become so old that their repair or renovation is difficult.

People in Japan often say that even if you buy a new house, it won't be worth anything in 30 years.

The main reason for this is that natural disasters like storms and earthquakes are common in Japan and new houses are built keeping them in mind under strict standards so that the damage can be reduced in the event of a disaster.

Guidelines for construction of houses change every 10 years

These guidelines are also changed every 10 years. In such a situation, it is very expensive to convert the old houses according to the new building construction rules.

Building construction companies are building houses according to the changing needs of the people and marketing them in an attractive way. People's needs are changing in Japan and about 8 lakh new houses are built every year.  But no one is interested in old houses built by their ancestors and their numbers are increasing in Japan. 

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