A new law went into effect on Tuesday that allows local governments to demolish vacant houses that have been abandoned for a long time and which are deemed to be unsafe or pose a sanitary risk.
The law was drawn up by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry to deal with the increasing number of abandoned houses.
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry estimates that there are 8.2 million abandoned houses across the nation, many of which have become decrepit, in danger of collapse, or have attracted pests.
The new law allows municipal authorities to enter the houses for inspection. If they are deemed to pose a health hazard, they will be classified as “Special Vacant Houses” and their owners will be notified and ordered to either repair the houses or demolish them.
I – Word Understanding
derelict – very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect
decrepit – very old or worn out because of age
II – Have Your Say
1. It is estimated that the number of abandoned houses in Japan will rise to 9.4 million by 2028.
2. Under the new law, if a house is deemed unsafe, owners will be notified and ordered to either repair the houses or demolish them. However, some owners cannot be traced anymore. Average demolition cost is 2 million yen.
30. 30 years ago, Sweden had the same problem. They solved it with the “double-housing concept” – owning 2 homes, one in the city and another one in the countryside (bought very cheap).