How to Tackle the Vacant-House Problem in Shrinking Cities: The Cases of Japanese Local Governments

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Naoko TAKEDA , School of Human Sciences, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Japanese society, with the progress of depopulation and rapid aging, is faced with the vacant-house problem in both urban and rural areas. It is being recognized that vacant houses are an urgent issue to be tackled by Japanese local governments. How to reduce risks associated with vacant houses (accidents caused by building collapse and risks in fire and crime) to promote residential population and local resilience. The purpose of this research is to clarify the characteristics of local governments’ actions against the vacant-house problem in urban areas into the following two types:

(1) Enforcement of “municipal regulations for controlling vacant houses”

In 2010, Japan’s first municipal regulation against vacant houses was enforced in a city of suburban area of Metropolitan Tokyo. This action was a response to an increase in the number of destroyed houses. More than 40 cities have enforced similar regulations since then, and the number is further increasing. This tendency is especially prominent in local governments facing severe economic conditions, suggesting that how to control vacant houses has been a potential and serious problem. Main actors are local governments and the house owners. More specifically, who bears the demolition costs of aging houses is the point.

(2) Management of “vacant-house banks”

It is a challenge to local governments to introduce vacant houses, which have not been valued in private housing markets, to public information networks to promote their effective use. There are various types in the management of “vacant-house banks” by local authorities. Diverse actors including NPO are involved in this type. Because renovation of vacant houses costs a large amount of money, those actors are seeking to form a partnership with each other and to explore effective methods. Generally, not only reducing vacant house-associated risks but increasing values of local resources is aimed.