Japan is offering millions of abandoned rural homes free of cost or at heavily discounted prices to young couples with school-going children, local reports say.
Some 8.2 million ‘akiya’ (abandoned) homes are up for grabs for couples below 43 years of age with at least one child attending junior school. They should also be willing to stay in such vacant homes permanently.
The government is facing this unique housing problem because of dwindling population, large-scale migration of youth to big cities for jobs and superstitions linked to homes in small towns and villages associated with suicides, murders or lonely deaths.
Since new homes cost at least $790,000, the government’s ‘Akiya’ housing scheme will be a boon to couples who cannot afford such homes.
At the same time, families living in ‘Akiya’ homes are seen as ‘failures’ in life left with no other option. It is also argued that they will be in trouble if one day the original owners of such homes return to claim their ownership.
Government agencies say Japan’s population may fall from 127 million to 88 million by 2065. Some 30% rural homes will be abandoned by 2033 and about 900 ‘ghost’ towns and villages will emerge by 2040.
The government hopes to stop this trend through the ‘Akiya’ housing scheme. For home seekers, it has set up a database of abandoned homes for sale.
If some of these abandoned homes need any renovation, local governments will provide subsidies.