Population Decline in Japan Impacts Real Estate Market

TOKYO — The significant population decline in Japan is having far-reaching effects on the country’s real estate market. According to recent reports, more than nine million residential properties stand vacant, presenting both challenges and opportunities for foreign investors.

The Population Crisis

Japan is experiencing an unprecedented population decline. In 2023, the birth rate continued to decrease, reaching a historic low. Simultaneously, life expectancy increased, resulting in an aging society. The total population of Japan, including foreign residents, decreased by 831,872 people. This represents the highest population decline the country has ever recorded.

The Growing Number of Vacant Properties

The issue of vacant properties extends beyond apartments to include houses. These empty properties are known as “Akiya.” In October 2023, there were over half a million more vacant properties than in the previous survey conducted in 2018. Estimates from the Nomura Research Institute suggest that there could be nearly 11 million “Akiya.” Currently, they constitute approximately 14 percent of all houses in Japan and could account for over 30 percent within a decade.

Challenges and Opportunities

The increasing number of vacant properties presents both challenges and opportunities. Here are some key aspects to consider:


  • Deterioration and Neglect: Vacant properties are susceptible to deterioration and neglect. Without regular maintenance, they can become eyesores in residential areas.
  • Economic Impact: Vacancy affects the local economy, as fewer people reside in these areas and utilize fewer services.
  • Financial Burden: Owners of vacant properties may face financial burdens related to taxes and maintenance costs.
  • Investment Potential: Foreign investors recognize the potential of vacant properties. They can acquire these properties at favorable prices and renovate them for resale.
  • Community Revitalization: Reviving vacant properties can enhance entire neighborhoods.
  • Creative Use: Some “Akiya” are repurposed into cafés, art galleries, or community centers.
Securing the Future of Japanese Communities

While Japan’s population decline poses a crisis, it also offers an opportunity to transform the real estate market. Collaboration between the government and investors is essential to finding sustainable solutions and shaping the future of Japanese communities. (zai)