The 2008 Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications housing statistics are out. Read them here, or just read my highlight reel below.
57.6 million homes in Japan and 13.1% are vacant
Anyone who has traveled through the countryside of Japan is probably not surprised at this. Several prefectures are now in the 15 to 20% vacancy range, including Yamanashi (the worst at 20.2% vacancy), Nagano, Wakayama, and all of Shikoku.
Stand-alone houses are in the majority, but high-rise apartments are slowly taking over
Of the total home count, 55.4% are stand-alone houses (一戸建). A dwindling 2.7% are row houses (長屋建), i.e. stand-alone houses clustered together sharing walls. The remaining 41.7% are group residences (共同住宅), like apartments and condos. These form the majority of homes in the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya metropolitan areas (52.1% of the three regions combined), and 56.4% of the housing stock around Tokyo.
Although the group residences were mostly one and two-story buildings back in the eighties, these low-rise units are less than 30% of the total apartment/condo count now. More than 30% of units today are in buildings of more than five stories, and 12.7% are in buildings of more than ten stories. Both proportions are steadily increasing.
More owners than renters
61.2% of Japan’s homes are owned, while 35.8% are rented (the remainder is “unverified”). About 6% of the total stock is owned by the government (public housing and Urban Renaissance Agency “UR” housing, about which I plan to write more in the future).
Owners have a heck of a lot more space
The average owned home has a floor area of 120.89 m2. The average rented home, on the other hand, has a floor area of 45.93 m2 (494 square feet for our American readers), which I find to be ridiculously tiny for anything resembling a “household.” (It would be interesting to see some more stats, like quintiles or something, or at least median numbers.)
Old people are taking over
8.3% of Japan’s houses are now occupied by single people over 65, and that number is rising (up 22.4% in the last five years). This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, since this is one of the most rapidly aging societies on Earth, but one must wonder who will take care of all these people in the event of a really major disaster. Like an extended LDP administration.