Japan’s Growing Number of Ghost Towns and the Reasons Behind It

  • On the surface, Japan seems like a country with highly populated metropolises of high technology and sky-high accommodation prices. Tokyo is the most populated city in the whole world with over 13 million people residing there. However, Japan is entering a population crisis. The overall population of Japan fell by over 300,000 last year and so did the rate of childbirth. This means that Japan is in a unique position of heading towards a population that is 1/3 retired. More and more people from rural areas of Japan are moving to the larger cities for job opportunities. This is leaving ghost towns in the more rural areas, as the younger generation leaves and the older generations pass.

    Ghost Towns

    One in seven homes in Japan is uninhabited. This really surprised me when I found out as, like many people, I thought Japan has a very high population. This is true, in a way, as Japan is home to the world’s largest metropolis. However, Japan’s total population has fallen for the 8th year running. There are some main factors which many people feel is responsible for this decline. One is the number of children being born. Within Japan, the statistics show that each woman is having, on average, 1.4 children. This total is not enough to keep up with the number of people dying each year. A second factor is immigration. Many countries’ population is upped due the immigration of people and familiar from other countries. To be counted, you must live in Japan for more than three months. However, it can be very difficult to become a naturalised Japanese citizen and immigration rules are strict. Therefore, immigration does not add much in Japan.


    Now you may think this would not have a big impact. The factor that does make this bigger is that new homes are being built more than old homes are being demolished. With 1 million fewer people you need fewer houses. Now 1 in 7 properties in Japan in uninhabited. Uniquely in Japan houses are rarely sold second hand, like in the UK. Many people prefer to buy land and build a new house, so house buying is very different in Japan. This means that there are hundreds of thousands of empty, unsellable houses. These homes have fallen into disrepair and are an eye sore to the communities who still live there.

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