NRI Papers
No.150 January 1 , 2010
  Proposal of social strategies in Japan until 2040
— Coping with problems of housing, land use and infrastructure management caused by population decline —
 
Tetsuji UEMURA and Masaaki UTO
   Since 2008, Japan has not only been a rapidly aging, low-fertility rate society but has also been a depopulating society. The population decline is expected to cause a number of social problems as well as a significant impact on Japan's infrastructure.
   This paper aims at discussing the possibility of the impact of population decline by conducting a comparison between Japan and Germany. This is because Germany is known as a typical depopulated country within OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.
   During the ten years after German reunification, the eastern part of Germany faced severe increases in the number of vacant houses and land because of industrial decline and the subsequent social migration. Now, the number of houses are increasing in order to improve their quality and to stimulate the regional economy. To manage this situation, federal and local governments have promoted the demolition of vacant properties.
   Considering the differences in the social backgrounds of Japan and eastern Germany, such as social domestic migration related to sudden political change versus nationwide population decline, a faster population decline in eastern Germany, the prevalence of collective ownership of houses and the much higher ratio of aging houses in eastern Germany than that in Japan, it is possible to say that it is unlikely that the problems caused by population decline that are observed in eastern Germany will easily occur in Japan. On the other hand, in Japan, the pace of the increase in the number of houses has already surpassed the pace of the increase in the number of households, and this will probably lead to problems in terms of vacant houses.
   While the population and the number of households are certainly declining, the longer it takes to solve the problems of vacant properties, the more severe will be the effect on the construction and housing industry, infrastructure managers and individual property owners. Accordingly, this problem requires urgent resolution.
   For this, not only introducing compact city policy, but also introducing other policies, such as charging an additional tax on vacant properties, introducing cap and trade regulations on housing construction/demolition rights, collecting housing ownership and so on, are expected in order to reduce the social costs related to disasters, provision of infrastructure services and public works administration.
Contents
I Introduction
II Methodology
III Better and worse in Japan than in Germany
IV Possible actions to be taken in Japan up to 2040
V Necessity to develop comprehensive urban plan

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