A woman walks past closed bars and pubs in a shopping area in Kitakyushu, Japan. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

One in Seven Homes in Japan Is Empty

(Bloomberg) -- A record 8.46 million Japanese homes are sitting vacant as builders keep adding stock in a country where the population is shrinking.

The number jumped by 260,000 in a twice-a-decade survey released by the government on Friday, reaching 13.6 percent of housing, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Many of the properties are for future sale or rental or vacation. However, some are abandoned, posing hazards, the news service reported. Vacancy rates were highest in a prefecture that’s home to the northern part of Mount Fuji, which is a popular area for holiday homes. However more people moving from rural areas to metropolitan ones is also driving the increase, according to the news report.

Stashes of cash are also often discovered when these houses are taken down, the Nikkei Asian Review said. The equivalent of more than $200,000 was found at one Tokyo demolition site in 2018.

Still, the number of empty homes may be dwarfed elsewhere. A 2017 survey indicated a vacancy rate of about one-in-five urban dwellings in China. That translates to around 65 million homes, according to media reports.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.