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.

    Related Articles:
    Save Japan’s Economy: Increase the Female Workforce!

    1. Gordon Armstrong says:

      This is really a sad story about Japan. Thanks for sharing this.

    2. Janey says:

      It’s quite disconcerting and saddening when you think of all the empty houses around the country with their inhabitants no longer thinking of coming back ever. On the other hand, it makes me want to pack my bags and explore all the ghost towns!

      1. Justin Liew says:

        ^to janey, I know how that feels, I wish I could do the same! If you ever do decide to go, post pics!

      2. jimmy says:

        Did author article forgotten some areas might due to radioactive positive areas?

      3. gabriel says:

        ill go an explore the ghost towns as well no one else lives there thats a plus for me

    3. AJ says:

      The article doesn’t address the conservative and insular mentality of the countryside towns and villages. Many owners would rather leave the uninhabited house to continue falling into disrepair than rent or sell to someone outside their family. Having been in the market for a dyi renovation house in the countryside has been frustrating. Unless the mentality somehow changes, many beautiful houses with amazing construction and materials will just rot away. Such a waste!

    4. Faheem Anwar says:

      I love japan and i have lot of ideas and ways to sold out 2nd hand homes in good price but need someone to point out my worda and contact me back

    5. Andrew says:

      If I was able to buy a house in Japan I would buy a old prebuilt house cause it’s history your buying

    6. Marcusae says:

      Let’s focus on the root cause, not radioactive issue, not unwillingly to rent to outsider etc….the birth rate is declining. ..statistic not even at par with death rate. Got it?

    7. Anonymous says:

      Radiation hit one small area of Japan. The housing, population, and cultural archaity issues are nation-wide.

    Leave a Reply to Marcusae Cancel reply